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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Switzerland 'steals' workforce from Italy; government devises plans for the re-emergence of Covid: find out what is going on in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Italians prefer to commute to Switzerland for work. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Italian border regions ‘alarmed’ as workers favour Swiss jobs

Many people living in border areas of Italy and France prefer working in Switzerland, where salaries are much higher.

This Switzerland-bound exodus of qualified labour causes shortages of skilled workers in their own regions, especially in the construction, restaurant and hotel sectors. Companies in those areas say scarcity of employees is “alarming” and describe the local employment situation  as “dramatic”.

“I could offer an experienced carpenter a salary of up to 3,000 euros”, one employer in the Italian border commune of Campodolcino said. “But in Switzerland he is paid at least 4,500 euros”.

To keep local talent away from the much greener pastures of Switzerland, businesses in border regions are debating how to make local jobs more “Swiss” — that is, more competitive and attractive in terms of wages and working conditions.

“The truth is that we should copy the Swiss model,” one local politician said.

About 68,000 Italians are currently employed in Switzerland — mostly in Ticino, but also in Valais and Graubünden, all of which share a border with Italy.

The majority of cross-border workers in Switzerland (about 180,000) come from France.

This is not the first time employers across the border complain about ‘losing’ local workforce to Switzerland:

Why French cross-border workers choose to work in Switzerland

All is well on the Covid front — for now

As weekly figures released on Tuesday by the Federal Office of Public Health  (FOPH) indicate, the number of coronavirus infections continues to drop.

Between April 19th and Tuesday, 22,730 new cases have been registered, down from 28,244 the previous week.

Hospitalisations also declined during the same reporting period, with 69 Covid patients in ICUs currently, versus 81 last week.

Since the beginning of April, when the remaining coronavirus restrictions had been lifted, FOPH no longer reports daily figures, resorting instead to updates issued once a week on Tuesdays.

But while the situation is good right now and is excepted to stay on this positive course through the summer, health authorities are already getting ready for the re-emergence of the virus later this year.

While no specific action plans are yet in place, both federal and cantonal officials  are preparing to jump into crisis management mode should the epidemiological situation demand it, FOPH said on Tuesday.

The war in Ukraine might lead to reconciliation between Switzerland and  the EU

Almost a year after Bern had called off talks with the European Union aimed at sealing a cooperation agreement, and angering the EU in the process, Switzerland might be back in Brussels’ good graces.

According to a report by RTS public broadcaster, “since Bern adopted European sanctions against Russia…there is a spirit of renewal” between the two sides.

As a result of this thaw in the previously strained relations, two high-level visits are planned this week between Switzerland and the EU.

Brussels is waiting to see whether Switzerland’s position on the contentious points that broke off negotiations last year has changed in the meantime, RTS reported.

“In the most optimistic scenarios, [this week’s talks] could lead by the summer to a meeting” between Swiss president Ignazio Cassis and the vice-president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.

“We could then really speak of a new beginning in relations between Switzerland and the EU” the broadcaster said.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland call off EU talks and what are the consequences?

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

From a solid approval of all the issues in Sunday's referendum to higher beverage prices: find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

The Swiss say ‘yes’ to three proposals in Sunday’s referendum

Voters in Switzerland have accepted all three of the Federal Council’s proposals, rejecting, at the same time, opponents’ arguments.

The law making organ donation opt out across the country was approved by 60.20 percent, providing more money and staff to controversial EU border protection agency Frontex passed with 71.48 percent, and Lex Netflix – which makes streaming services pay a percentage fee to support Swiss filmmaking – passed with 58.42 percent.

READ MORE: Swiss back ‘Netflix’ law and steer clear of ‘Frontexit’

Read about the reactions in Switzerland to the vote results in our article to be published later today.

Price of beverages is soaring in Switzerland

Another popular product is becoming more expensive: non-alcoholic beverages.

“The price of PET [bottle] is skyrocketing, and with it that of mineral water and soft drinks”, according to a report in 20 Minuten.

“And there is a risk of further price increases.”

For instance, prices per litre of mineral water are now 5 to 10 cents higher, depending on the retailer. 

Of the four major retailers that the newspaper surveyed — Migros, Coop, Aldi and Lidl — only Coop has not yet increased the price of beverages, although its spokesperson conceded the company “cannot currently rule out price adjustments,” due to higher cost of raw materials, the shortage of packaging material, and the increased transport and energy costs.

Beverages have joined a growing list of other everyday products whose prices have increased due to inflation and war in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Seven products that are becoming more expensive in Switzerland

Migros gets tough on “unscrupulous” customers

Due to a growing number of shoplifters, some self-service Migros stores in Zurich are installing special barriers allowing only those who pay for their purchases to exit the store.

Customers who pay at self-checkout terminals must now scan the QR code of their receipt to open a barrier and leave with their purchases.

This is a rather drastic measure, “as Migros and Coop have so far relied on individual responsibility and random checks”, according to Tagblatt newspaper.

Russians critical of the Putin regime want to remain in Switzerland

A number of Russian women in Switzerland, who have criticised the war on social media and are therefore afraid of repercussions from the Kremlin, are asking the Federal Council to grant them asylum.

“I can understand that these women are concerned,” said Ulrich Schmid, Professor of Russian Culture and Society at the University of St. Gallen. “It is possible that the Russian secret service reports on people who are critical of the war”.

Should Russian deserters and opponents of the war get asylum in Switzerland? MPs’ views diverge.

For a Green MP Balthasar Glättli, Switzerland should grant these war objectors humanitarian visas.

However, according to Thomas Aeschi from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), “Switzerland should treat all asylum seekers equally”, pointing out there are many people in other countries “who are also threatened”.

According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Russians who remain in Switzerland can apply to their canton of residence to extend their existing residence permit. “It will be checked whether they meet the legal requirements for this”, SEM said.

READ MORE: Reader question: Do Russians now have to leave Switzerland?

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]