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Switzerland – Swiss Staffing calls for immigrant quota clarification

11 February 2014

Industry experts are concerned about the negative impact on temporary staffing following the vote to cap the number of EU nationals immigrating to Switzerland. The vote passed by the slimmest of margins, 50.3%, following an initiative put forward by the ultraconservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), reports ft.com.

As a result of the vote, the Swiss government will now have to replace the current policy of free movement for EU nationals with a system of quotas.

Swiss Staffing, the Swiss Federation of Staffing Companies, has voiced its concern that recruiting skilled labour from abroad will become more difficult in future and it will be a greater challenge for companies to fill jobs quickly.

According to a statement from Swiss Staffing: “In the interests of temporary work, Swiss Staffing requires a system of non-bureaucratic quotas, adapted to the needs of the economy. At the same time, the result of the vote shows the fears about the effects of immigration (real or imaginary) have not sufficiently been taken into account. The population deserves more realistic solutions.”  

“We fear that uncertainty about the consequences of changing the system could hamper the economy. To this end, Swiss Staffing is hoping for a swift clarification on how the initiative will be applied. But we are also warning against making hasty decisions. The transition from a free labour market to a quota market must be approached thoughtfully and differentiated to keep as many of the benefits of the free market as possible. In particular, we mean the low unemployment rate and keeping Switzerland an attractive place to do business.”         

In a separate interview with demorgen.be, Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Switzerland-based staffing giant Adecco, commented: “Personally I regret the outcome tremendously because economic migration is good for people and business. I attribute the result to a nationalist reflex in the wake of the economic crisis.”

In the short term, Mr De Maeseneire fears that there may be some negative consequences for the business world: “Switzerland has now suffered reputational damage, which will possibly make it harder to attract new investors.”

In the medium term, however, he has confidence in a good outcome: “I am hopeful of a compromise in the negotiations with the EU. The Swiss government will have to respect the referendum and apply quotas, but nothing stands in the way of the needs of the labour market. They know that workers are needed. The Swiss are, above all else, pragmatists.”       


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