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Record number of foreign workers commute to Switzerland from abroad

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Record number of foreign workers commute to Switzerland from abroad
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
11:42 CET+01:00
Over 325,000 foreign “day workers” have jobs in Switzerland. Who are they and why do they cross the border each day?

According to newly released statistics, a record number of 325, 291 workers from three neighbouring countries — France, Germany, and Italy — commute to Switzerland every day. That’s 8,800 more than the last record set in in 2017.

The largest number — 85,100 —people came to Geneva from France, 67,800 crossed the border from Italy to Ticino, while 33,700 came from Germany and France to Basel, as the city straddles French and German borders.

These workers can be employed in Switzerland thanks to a bilateral agreement, ‘Free Movement of Persons’, that the Swiss government signed with the countries of the European Union.

The ‘frontaliers / Grenzübergänger’, as those cross-border employees are called, hold G-permits, which are valid for one year and are limited to the border zone of the issuing canton. The G-permit rules state that workers must return to their main residence abroad at least once a week.

Most frontaliers work in manufacturing, hospitality, and retail industries.

These workers should not be confused with French, Italian and German immigrants who live permanently in Switzerland, constituting the largest percentage of foreigners in the country, or with those who have the right to live here but choose to make their home in the bordering areas because life is cheaper there. 

For the G-permit foreigners, the main attraction of working in Switzerland are the salaries, which are significantly higher than in their own countries. And since they live in nations where the cost of living is lower, they can afford a much better lifestyle than their compatriots.
 

 
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