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Top German firm banned over 'wage dumping'

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Top German firm banned over 'wage dumping'
Artist's impression of the Roche Tower in Basel (Image: Herzog & de Meuron).
11:03 CEST+02:00
In the first ruling of its kind, a leading German construction company that underpaid its workers has been banned for two years from operating in Switzerland.

Basel’s economy and labour office issued the ban against Bilfinger Berger Spezialtiefbau for “wage dumping”, the practice of paying workers less than the standard rate set by the canton and industry.

Bilfinger Berger, Germany’s second largest construction firm, failed to adequately pay 15 employees working on the Roche Tower, the Sonntag newspaper revealed.

The company did not pay required supplements for work at night and on Saturdays.

The Roche Tower, still under construction, will be Switzerland’s tallest building at 175 metres when completed.
 
Bilfinger Berger had said it would appeal the wage dumping decision initially made last May.

But earlier this month it decided to withdraw the appeal, the Basel economy and labour office confirmed on Monday.

The company was ordered to pay back wages totalling around 90,000 francs ($97,000).

The firm has subsequently made the payments, in addition to a 37,000-franc fine and 24,000 francs in administrative costs.

The continued strength of the Swiss franc against the euro has put pressure on Swiss wages, prompting concerns at the political level about pay controls being too lax.

A conference of cantonal directors of finance is scheduled to discuss the issue next month.

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