Geneva civil servants ordered to dust desks

Government administrative workers in the canton of Geneva have been ordered to clean their offices and sort their rubbish themselves as a cost-saving measure, officials say.

Geneva civil servants ordered to dust desks
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The measure, introduced as a test in the canton's buildings department last month, affects around 800 staff and looks set to be expanded.

Civil servants are each provided with a duster and required to clean their desks, the Tribune de Genève reported online on Tuesday.

They are asked to sort their trash and recyclables and to dispose of them at collection points.

"This will permit the government to save millions of francs and to optimize the maintenance work at the (office) sites," Pacal de Lorenzi, one of the officials responsible for the project, told the Tribune.

Lorenzi said the potential savings would be enormous if applied to all government offices.

The canton used to employ 200 cleaners to look after 400 buildings but from now on the work is being contracted out, he is quoted as saying by the Tribune.

The idea is to do just as much cleaning but with less money, he said.

The self-tidy plan will only apply to administrative offices, not to schools or medical services, Lorenzi emphasized.

Meanwhile, while the canton of Geneva is seeking to reduce spending on cleaners, the city of Geneva is demanding higher pay for workers contracted to clean its municipal buildings.

The city has set a minimum of 25 francs an hour for employees of cleaning companies hired by the municipality.

Companies that pay less receive fewer points in a system used to award contracts that has been legally challenged by the local association of cleaning entrepreneurs.

Sandrine Salerno, the Socialist executive city councillor overseeing the cleaning policy, has threatened to make cleaners city employees if the association wins its legal challenge.

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What is Switzerland’s ‘one franc vineyards’ scheme – and is it legit?

When news broke of vineyards being offered in the southwest of Switzerland for one franc, many asked if it was too good to be true. Here's what you need to know about the scheme (and how much a vineyard will actually cost you).

What is Switzerland's 'one franc vineyards' scheme - and is it legit?

Earlier in Spring, news broke of a new scheme where Swiss vineyards were available for just one franc. 

As with similar stories offering one franc plots of land or houses, the news spread far and wide – which of course was the point – while some eventually became disappointed. 

READ MORE: Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

While it’s likely to cost you a good deal more than one franc, if owning a Swiss vineyard (or at least part of it) is on your bucket list, you now have an opportunity to do so. 

Why are Swiss vineyards going cheap?

With nearly 5,000 hectares of vineyards and 60 different grape varieties, Valais is Switzerland’s largest wine-growing region.

Unfortunately, 20 percent of the canton’s vines are abandoned and municipalities must uproot them because they can’t find people willing to cultivate them.

A case in point is the community of Savièse, nestled in a picturesque Alpine valley. About 120 plots — four to five hectares — of  its vineyards were abandoned by their owners and therefore not harvested last year, as the commune can’t find people to do the work.

This is a serious case of neglect because “when a vine is not pruned, there is a period of one year to uproot it. Otherwise, there is a risk of spreading disease”, according to Savièse’s mayor, Sylvain Dumoulin.

“There are some vines where we need to do this now, and I fear the number will increase in the future”, he added.

How much does a plot cost?

In order to protect its winemaking traditions in general and abandoned plots in particular, the municipality has launched a new vines-saving project which includes a “stock exchange” of sorts for the sale and purchase of abandoned parcels.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to drink wine like a Swiss

Dumoulin didn’t reveal the cost of a plot of vineyard, as it depends on its location, condition and other factors.

Unfortunately, while you may have seen articles reporting that parcels are being sold for “a symbolic one franc”, this is more than likely a marketing ploy to attract attention than a realistic price.

Savièse’s vineyards. Screenshot, Saviè

“The main long-term objective is to encourage the grouping of plots and thus the rationalisation of the exploitation of these parcels”, Dumoulin told The Local.

He added that currently the project is “exclusively accessible for people who already own vineyards. But from July it will be open to anyone with an interest in purchasing vineyard areas”.

From then on, “anyone can download the application to find plots of vines for sale and to make their owner a price proposal”. 

The app, called “Vignoble Savièse” can be purchased in Apple or Google stores.

One example of such a gimmick was the Ticino town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which offered houses for one franc.

‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true

As The Local reported, “the news – along with pictures of the Ticino countryside and the lake itself – spread across the globe, with people inside and outside of Switzerland letting themselves dream”. 

However, the “rustic houses with the view of the lake” turned out to be nothing more than ruins, with no roofs, windows, electricity or running water, situated in remote locations — about an hour’s walk from the nearest village.