• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Swiss cleaning firm dupes refugees into working for free
File photo: Bark/Flickr

Swiss cleaning firm dupes refugees into working for free

The Local · 22 Jan 2016, 16:21

Published: 22 Jan 2016 16:21 GMT+01:00

“At first I thought it was normal to work for free in Switzerland to get a residency permit. My friends at the refugee home also did it.”

These are the words of Yusuf, a young man from Sudan who worked cleaning McDonald's restaurants “non-stop” and “without breaks” for some 40 days with just four days off in late 2014 and early 2015.

Yusuf was not paid for any of this cleaning work because his employer – a subsidiary of Swiss firm Top Clean Reinigungen GmbH – had offered him a chance at obtaining a B permit, which allows people to live in Switzerland for up to five years.

The Sudanese man, who currently holds an F permit allowing him to stay in Switzerland on a provisional basis only, believed he would only be paid once that B permit had been organized.

It wasn’t until a fellow resident at the refugee home where he lived explained that if his boss had yet to provide him with a contract or pay him, he was unlikely to do ever do either.

The two men then reported the cleaning firm to Swiss union Unia which investigated the case and recently reported on it in its magazine Work.

When Yusuf went on to demand 6,868 Swiss francs in wages from the cleaning firm, his manager offered him 3,000 francs, but also demanded he retract his complaint. He refused.

Speaking about the case, the media spokesperson for McDonald's in Switzerland, Aglaë Strachwitz, said the restaurant chain had no direct connection with the cleaning company in question, and that such services were contracted out.

Story continues below…

The Geneva McDonald's franchise group in question has now cancelled its contract with Top Clean after the firm failed to answer the companies questions “to our satisfaction”, Strachwitz added.

Lawyers for Top Clean have chosen not to speak publicly about the case.

“There’s no way I am going to fall for this again. I only hope I can find a paying job soon. There must still be decent bosses in Switzerland,” Yusuf told Work.  

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Today's headlines
London Olympic athletes fail new doping tests
IOC president Thomas Bach announced the news. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/ADP

The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee reports 23 new doping failures from 2012 Games.

Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Coop is among the supermarkets considering the idea. Photo: Coop

Voluntary agreement may be the solution after a commission quashes idea of outright ban.

Head-on crash leaves Swiss motorcyclist dead
The accident happened on the way to Les Mosses. File photo: Falk Lademann

A motorcyclist died in a head-on crash with a car on a mountain road in Vaud.

Bern renews funding for controversial arts centre
Bern town hall. File photo: Dennie Jarvis

The Reitschule has been granted a reprieve after authorities in the city agreed a 1.5 million franc grant to keep it going until 2019.

Neighbours’ day: Swiss cities join growing European party
Around 40 towns in Switzerland will celebrate Neighbours' Day. Photo: Tag der Nachbarn

St Gallen becomes the latest Swiss town to take part in European Neighbours’ Day.

Swiss boffins create cannabis e-cigarette
File photo: Marcel van Hoorn/AFP

"Cannavaping" for medical use is safer than a joint and better than a pill, say Lausanne scientists.

Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
The resort of Verbier in the canton of Valais. File photo: The Local

Valais and Vaud launch joint candidacy for the 2026 winter Olympics.

Ticino beaches praised in European report
Bathing spots on Lake Lugano were among those rather excellent. Photo: Roland Gerth/Swiss-image.ch

More than 100 Swiss beaches have been rated as excellent for water quality in a European report.

Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
The new rail tunnel is the longest and deepest in the world. Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard

The longest tunnel in the world will be inaugurated in Switzerland amid great fanfare on June 1st. The Local takes you through it.

Bern pulls plug on lakes after heavy rain forecast
Lake Biel/Bienne is one of the three affected lakes. Photo: Biel/Bienne/Seeland tourism/Swiss-image.ch

Authorities are reducing the water level of three Swiss lakes this week so they can cope with heavy rain to come.

Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
Photo: Aargau cantonal government
‘Beast of Rupperswil’ was local football coach
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Features
Geneva exhibition marks 200 years of Frankenstein
Photo AFP
National
Swiss basic income campaign sets Guinness world record
Photo: St Gallen police
Society
Police hunt killer of man shot dead in St Gallen street
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Society
Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
Photo: Zurich Zoo
Culture
Gallery: giant tortoise at Zurich Zoo is mother at 80
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Swiss farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
Photo: Esparta Palmer
Health
44-year-old woman refused fertility treatment on insurance
File photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
Society
Jilted admirer shocks woman with tattoo... of her face
File photo: Flickr
Health
Swiss school eyes longer holidays for non-smoking staff
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Swiss basic income vote: what you need to know
 Photo: Heinrich Plum
National
Lidl uses German mountain to promote its Swiss products
4,667
jobs available