Swiss trade union Unia has launched a campaign against xenophobia as it seeks to counteract what it describes as the “current climate of exclusion in Switzerland”.

"/> Swiss trade union Unia has launched a campaign against xenophobia as it seeks to counteract what it describes as the “current climate of exclusion in Switzerland”.

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IMMIGRANT

Swiss union starts pro-immigrant campaign

Swiss trade union Unia has launched a campaign against xenophobia as it seeks to counteract what it describes as the “current climate of exclusion in Switzerland”.

Swiss union starts pro-immigrant campaign
Unia

Unia said the goal of the “Without us – no Switzerland“ campaign is to demonstrate the importance of having foreigners living in Switzerland.

The union, the largest trade group in Switzerland, said it wants to give a voice to people who have had enough of “smear campaigns“.

Unia said on Monday that without its immigrant workforce Switzerland would have fewer building workers, fewer footballers, a shortage of doctors, fewer care assistants and limited scientific research. Also, there would be a major dip in the country’s famed chocolate production since more than 60 percent of chocolate factory workers do not hold Swiss passports.

Instead of receiving recognition for their contribution, Switzerland’s immigrant population often encounter discrimination and ostracism, Unia said.

Unia’s campaign is mainly targeted at the far-right SVP (Swiss People’s Party), who are currently running a prominent anti-immigration election campaign.

For years, right-wing populist groups have been agitating against migrants, stirring up fear and xenophobia in the general population and poisoning the societal climate with terms like mass immigration’,” Unia chief Rita Schiavi said in a statement.

The time has now come to actively oppose anti-foreigner sentiment in Switzerland, according to the union.

“How does it feel as a foreign tourist to see a placard on arrival in the train station suggesting that foreigners are threatening Switzerland like an army?” Schiavi asked at a press conference in Bern on Monday.

“And how must one feel as a worker without a Swiss passport to be constantly confronted with the accusation of being a criminal despite working day in and day out for the good of Switzerland?“ she added.

Compared to other European countries, Switzerland has one of the highest foreigner-to-total-population ratios: 21.9 percent at the last census in 2005, rising to 37.8 percent in Canton Geneva.

The Swiss economy and labour market depend heavily on a migrant workforce, with Italians making up the biggest migrant group followed by citizens of the former Yugoslavia and Portuguese.

In the coming months, Unia plans to distribute postcards and flags, which are available to order free via their campaign website.

Unia will conclude their campaign on December 17th and 18th with an International Immigrant Day.

Campaign website: www.ohne-uns-keine.ch

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SVP

Swiss theatre docked funds for mocking populist MP

Zurich cantonal authorities have cut 50,000 francs from the Theater Neumarkt’s 2017 grant to cover costs associated with a show that mocked Roger Köppel, an influential publisher and MP for the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

Swiss theatre docked funds for mocking populist MP
Photo: Caspar Urban Weber/Theater Neumarkt

The experimental theatre, based in central Zurich, will get 280,000 francs in cantonal government subsidy for the 2017 season, a reduction of 50,000 francs on this year’s grant, Swiss media reported on Thursday.

The subsidy will return to the full amount in 2018.

Earlier this year the theatre courted controversy with a performance by German director Philipp Ruch which played on the politician’s surname to suggest Switzerland should ‘deköppel’, or untangle itself, from the SVP national councillor.

The audience was also invited to curse the MP in what Tages Anzeiger described as a “voodoo” performance.

Offended, the SVP asked for a cut of the theatre’s public funds, a request that was rejected by the city government, which funds the large majority of the theatre’s budget. But not so, it seems, by the canton.

According to the Tages Anzeiger the cantonal government said the subsidy cut “takes account of the expenses of the cantonal authorities in connection with the controversial concept in the 2016 programme”.

The Center for Political Beauty, a Germany-based artists collective led by director Ruch, reacted to the canton’s subsidy cut by saying it was “a childish and immature abuse of power,” said 20 Minuten.

Köppel was elected to the Swiss parliament in 2015. A journalist and publisher, he is the former editor of Tages Anzeiger and Germany’s Die Welt, and currently the owner-publisher of Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche.

Speaking to 20 Minuten on Thursday, he said the funding cut was “good news” for the theatre.

“Subsidy cuts have a positive effect on quality,” he said.

SVP President Mauro Tuena said he would have liked the canton to be “braver” by issuing a permanent reduction in subsidy, not just for one year.

“It sends a positive signal to all subsidized companies that taxpayers’ money should not be spent on any kind of  nonsense,” he added.

The canton of Zurich contributes subsidies to more than 100 cultural institutions in the canton in five-year terms, mainly using lottery money.

Ten institutions receive over 200,000 francs as part of the overall 16 million franc budget.

With the current round of funding coming to an end at the close of this year, on Thursday the canton outlined its grants for the next five-year term.

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