More than 300,000 women in Switzerland took to the streets for a ‘feminist strike’ on 14 June to demand “Respect, more pay and more time!”
Equality is far from reality in the wealthy European nation, where on average women still earn around a fifth less than men. At workplace actions throughout the country, and later at massive rallies, women workers together demanded wages and pensions with dignity, fair working hours, and an end to discrimination and sexual harassment.
In Lucerne, 25 women led their coworkers in blocking the entrance to employer SOS Cleaning at the beginning of the workday. They protested for equal pay, against unpaid travel time, late wage payments, wages paid in cash, and an end to bullying and discrimination. As a result of the protest, the company agreed to meet the strikers’ demands and signed an agreement with their union, Unia.
Women care givers who work in a private care home at Tertianum in Dotzigen, a town in the canton of Bern, extended their lunch break and presented the management with their list of demands. The care workers are fighting for more staff and respect. In the town La Chaux-de-Fonds, over 50 women from various care and nursing homes simultaneously left their workplaces in the afternoon to rally together for better conditions in their sector.
Women retail workers also held protests in several Swiss cities, the largest being in the main shopping districts of Lausanne and Geneva. Supported by Unia, they are fighting for better wages in retail, full-time jobs and a better work-life balance.
In the canton of Vaud, pharmaceutical assistants are battling for better conditions, and some, like those in Lausanne and Lutry, went on strike to draw attention to their low wages and unfair working conditions and to demand a collective labour agreement. Although their jobs carry great responsibility, they do not get the recognition they deserve.
Women post and logistics workers held actions for gender equality and equal pay for women across the country with their union syndicom, including outside the headquarters of SwissPost in Bern and the letter centers in Härkingen and in Mühlingen.
On the feminist day of action, syndicom delivered an open letter to Switzerland’s largest telecom company, Swisscom, calling for additional steps to achieve equal treatment for all workers at the company.
“The massive turnout at the feminist strike on 14 June and the host of powerful workplace actions, show that women are tired of waiting for gender equality. Governments and employers must act now to level up the workplace – and we will stand with our member unions in Switzerland and around the world to demand respect, rights and equal pay for women,” said UNI Global Union’s Deputy General Secretary Alke Boessiger at the march in Lausanne.
Photo by Rebecca Lena, to see more pictures click here.