Swiss Federal Railways has agree to put measures in place to protect employees working in an alley below the tracks from faeces and urine dumped by older model train carriages.

"/> Swiss Federal Railways has agree to put measures in place to protect employees working in an alley below the tracks from faeces and urine dumped by older model train carriages.

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Rail staff given shelter from excrement shower

Swiss Federal Railways has agree to put measures in place to protect employees working in an alley below the tracks from faeces and urine dumped by older model train carriages.


The problem derives from the fact that some of the old carriages on Swiss trains use toilets that deposit faeces directly onto the tracks, which became a problem in Zurich station. 

Construction workers operating below tracks 10,11,12,13,15 and 16 had been reporting for a month that they were receiving frequent faecal showers from cracks in the ceiling of the passageway where they were working.

After several unsuccessful protests, employees went on strike on Monday against the “unhealthy and humiliating” working conditions and gave the company an ultimatum: They would not return to their jobs until the company solved the situation.

In a statement released on Thursday, Swiss Federal Railways, union Unia and ARGE Bahnhof Löwenstrasse (the group of companies in charge of the project) said that several measures would be put in place.

By Tuesday next week, a canalization system will be installed to divert waste waters far from the alley under construction.

Furthermore, trains won’t stop in the parts of the tracks located right above the alleyway and, where this is not possible, toilets will be closed before getting to Zurich station.

Temporary latrines will also be installed on the station platforms to meet more urgent needs. If travellers prefer, they will be given a token to access the station toilets for free.

If all these measures end up proving insufficient, the Swiss Federal Railways has said that it is willing to consider further initiatives, expressing understanding that workers will only return to the alley when they enjoy full protection from the raining excrement.


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Sweden to scrap residence permit for EU citizens

Members of other European Union countries will soon find it easier to settle in Sweden - at least as far as the bureaucracy is concerned.

In response to an EU directive on freedom of movement, a government inquiry has proposed scrapping the requirement for EU citizens to apply for a residence permit in order to remain in Sweden.

“What we are proposing is to change that to a right to stay which does not depend on permission – it will be an inherent right,” Henrik Andersson, who worked on the report, told The Local.

The current system requires people from other EU countries to obtain a residence permit from Migrationsverket, the Swedish Board of Migration. In theory this is a formality, but in practice it often means a series of interviews.

“When I moved here I was amazed that I couldn’t just fill in a form and register,” said Lourde Soop, a lawyer from England who is now living in Stockholm with her Swedish husband.

Despite being able to provide evidence of owning a home in England and of being solvent, Lourde faced detailed questioning.

“We were interviewed separately for half an hour. I had to describe the interior of our apartment and members of my husband’s family, many of whom I hadn’t even met.”

Lourde was given a year’s permit and then faced the same procedure twice more.

“By the time of the third interview I owned a flat in Sweden, I was married and I had a job – but it was even tougher than the first,” she explained.

“Again, we were interviewed separately and they asked me how we got there on the day, which bus we took, what mobile phone brand my husband has. They wanted to know where we got married, the date and the names of guests at our wedding. It felt like the film ‘Green Card’.”

In order to get her permanent residency, Lourde Soop says she had to sign a declaration that she had been living with her husband since she moved to Sweden. Even that permit will expire after three years.

But the new proposal will bring about a significant shift in emphasis.

Henrik Andersson told The Local that there will, nevertheless, be certain conditions and that members of other EU states will have to meet those in order to stay in the country.

“If you meet the conditions, you won’t need the The Swedish Board of Migration’s permission to stay,” he said.

“But you will need to provide the same sort of information as you do for the identity card.”

While the new law will require people to register, failure to do so will not necessarily mean expulsion, explained Andersson. The Board of Migration will have ‘other means’ of dealing with reluctant registrants.

The procedure for registration, which will also apply to citizens from the “new” EU states, has not yet been addressed.

“The Board of Migration will be responsible for administering the system,” said Andersson. “How they do that is up to them.”

The directive must be written into Swedish law by 30th April next year. Anybody whose residence permit takes them beyond that date will be able to wait until it expires before they register.