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

New agreement for cross-border workers, more sanctions against Russia, and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
At Aargau restaurant, whatever you don't consume, you pay for. Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash

Bern and Paris seek a long-term cross-border agreement

As the agreements concerning taxes and social security contributions of French cross-border employees who are still working from home are set to expire today, Switzerland and France decided to draw up permanent rules for this group of workers, according to the Federal Department of Finance.

In a joint statement, both countries said they are aiming to come up with a “flexible, simple and fair regime for the workers and employers concerned” before the end of October.

The original treaty defining tax and social contribution obligations of cross-border commuters who had to work from their homes in France was signed on May 13th, 2020 and had been renewed several times since then.

This recent article explains what’s at stake for cross-border workers:

Swiss home-working agreement must be extended, demand cross border groups

Switzerland implements sixth package of sanctions against Russia

The measures, decided by the EU on June 3rd, came into force in Switzerland at 6 pm on Wednesday, the Federal Council announced.

They include an embargo on crude oil and certain refined petroleum products from Russia.

“Similar to the measures applicable in the EU, the purchase, import, transit and transport to or within Switzerland are prohibited”, the government said.  

“In addition, the embargo provides for a ban on the provision of services, including insurance or reinsurance, in connection with the transport of oil and certain Russian petroleum products”.  

The provision of services such as accounting, public relations and business consultancy to the Russian government is now also banned, in addition to advertising content produced or broadcast by official Russian media such as Russia Today or Sputnik.

Swiss cities are among priciest globally for foreign residents — again

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Switzerland’s four major cities — Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern — were ranked in the second, third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, in the 2022 Cost of Living City Ranking released by Mercer financial services company on Wednesday.

Only Hong Kong is more expensive.

“Mercer calculates the cost of living and housing for expatriates based on its own price surveys that correspond to their spending habits, which may be different from those of the local population. And the firm does not include education and health costs, generally borne by the employers of expatriate families”, the company said.

These findings are consistent with another survey , published on June 14th, which also ranked Zurich and Geneva among the costliest for international residents

Paradoxically, both cities also placed among the Top 10 “most liveable cities” in an index rating living conditions in 172 cities.

READ MORE: Why are Geneva and Zurich high among world’s ‘most liveable’ cities?

Aargau restaurant ‘fines’ clients who don’t finish their food.  

“Casanova” Indian restaurant in the town of Baden charges a fine of five francs — in addition to the bill — to customers who leave food on their plate.

The owner, Salman Ghauri, grew up in India where a large part of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, “so we don’t throw food away.”

In his restaurant, he serves an all-you-can-eat buffet for 20 francs, but some people pile up more food onto their plates than they can consume, and uneaten food ends up in trash.

This is why Ghauri decided charge a ‘penalty’ of anyone who doesn’t finish the food — a concept he says most of his customers support.

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 Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

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

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?