Foreigners are ‘taking jobs from the Swiss,’ says politician

Magdalena Martullo-Blocher, who has dual roles as a deputy from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and an entrepreneur, said too many immigrants are taking away jobs from the Swiss.

Foreigners are 'taking jobs from the Swiss,' says politician
Too many executives come from abroad, SVP deputy says. Photo by AFP

In an interview Saturday with the local media, Martullo-Blocher argued that workers from the EU “are taking the place of the Swiss” in the job market.

“And the situation is deteriorating even more because of the coronavirus pandemic”, she noted.

Martullo-Blocher is the daughter of Christoph Blocher, a major figure in the SVP — a right-wing party whose objective is to curb immigration to Switzerland.

She also said in the interview that numerous Swiss companies are managed by people who come to Switzerland from the EU nations.

“Some of them don’t know our business environment and don't have the same interests for Switzerland as we, the Swiss business leaders, do”, she said.

Numerous Swiss companies, including Nestlé, Novartis, and Roche, are managed by foreigners.

Martullo-Blocher spoke to the media just weeks ahead of a controversial SVP referendum to be held on September 27th.

The initiative calls for Switzerland to be able to regulate its immigration autonomously, and not based on treaties with the European Union.

Therefore, the Free Movement Agreement with the EU and EFTA should be re-negotiated, she said.

The agreement allows people from the EU and EFTA nations to work in Switzerland.

READ MORE: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

However, another SVP politician, Marco Chiesa from the canton of Ticino, told Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper that job preferences should be given not to the ‘Swiss’ as such, but to anyone who lives in Switzerland.

He added that he is in favour of immigration that benefits Switzerland, as the country always needs foreign specialists.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 1.4 million citizens of EU member states currently work in Switzerland. The country's total population 8.5 million.

Additionally, a total of 332,177 cross-border workers from France, Italy, Germany and Austria are employed in Switzerland. 

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Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse

Minors and adults housed in Swiss asylum centres have faced serious abuses at the hands of security staff, including beatings and chokeholds, Amnesty International warned Wednesday.

Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse
An asylum centre in the Alpine village of Realp, Central Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In a report, the rights organisation’s Swiss chapter detailed “alarming abuse” in the country’s federal asylum centres, and called for urgent government action to address the problem.

The report documents a range of abuses by staff of the private security companies Securitas and Protectas, which had been contracted by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Amnesty said it had spoken with 14 asylum seekers, including two minors, who reported having faced abuse from the security officers between January 2020 and April 2021, along with 18 current and former security agents and other witnesses.

The asylum seekers described being beaten and physically restrained to the point where they could not breathe or fainted.

Some also complained about trouble breathing after being doused with pepper spray, and being locked in a metal container in freezing temperatures.

The report found that six of the alleged victims had to be hospitalised, while two said they had been denied the medical assistance they had requested.

“In addition to complaints about physical pain, mistreatment and punitive treatment, these people also voiced concerns about (security staff’s) hostility, prejudice and racism towards the residents,” said Alice Giraudel, a lawyer with Amnesty’s Swiss branch.

Such attitudes had seemed to target people of North African origin in particular, she said. Some of the abuse cases, Amnesty said, “could amount to torture”, and would thus violate Switzerland’s obligations under international law.

In a media statement, the SEM said it took the criticism “very seriously”, but rejected the suggestion that abuses were taking place in a systematic manner in federal asylum centres.

It stressed that there was no acceptance for “disproportionate constraint” of asylum seekers, and vowed to “sanction all improper behaviour.”

Giraudel hailed that the SEM had recently announced it would open an external probe into isolated abuse allegations.

But, she insisted, the situation was alarming and required the government to stop looking at allegations of abuse as the work of “a few bad apples”.