Why are some international companies in Switzerland laying off staff?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why are some international companies in Switzerland laying off staff?
Hundreds of people lost their jobs at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

While many employers in Switzerland are desperately looking to hire workers, others have been, or are planning to, cut hundreds of jobs. Why is this?


Switzerland has been impacted by a massive worker shortage for many months, with a number of companies in various sectors unable to find qualified personnel to fill vacant positions. 

This workforce scarcity is “at its highest level in Switzerland,” according to a recent report by the University of St. Gallen.

The consequences of this shortage, the report pointed out, could be dire, affecting the country’s economic development and, consequently, its prosperity as well.

READ ALSO: Why is Switzerland's chronic labour shortage worsening? 

Logically, when the demand for workers outstrips the supply, companies should be actively recruiting new employees to fill the vacancies, not firing old ones.

But this is what some international companies have been doing — or are planning to do in the near future.

Who has been laying off employees, and why?

The most sweeping layoffs — about 3,000 jobs — happened in the banking sector, when UBS took over Credit Suisse earlier this year.

The reason for these cuts is to recoup the 3 billion francs that UBS had to spend to rescue its rival and to avert a banking crisis of global proportions.

The overall restructuring will cause 2,000 additional redundancies in Switzerland over the next couple of  years.


Other multi-nationals have been laying off employees as well.

In Zurich, for instance, Google has laid off more than 200 people since March.

The usually employee-friendly global technology giant cited corporate restructuring and “more effective business design” as a reason for job cuts.

After years of growth, the company has become too big and now wants to downsize, it said at the time.

And in September, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC / CICR) announced the laying off of 270 employees from its headquarters in Geneva.

More cuts could be announced in November, once the humanitarian organisation completes its budget process for 2024.

The reason for these layoffs are reduced aid budgets (that is, less money donated by various governments) that can no longer meet escalating humanitarian needs across the world.

READ ALSO: Which foreign workers are entitled to unemployment benefits in Switzerland?



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