Swiss watch bosses, workers sign five-year labor pact

Five more years of labor peace in the Swiss watch industry, source of most of the world’s most prestigious watches, has been assured by the signing of a collective agreement by industry’s employers and workers.

The pact affects 70 % of Swiss watch companies and 80% of Swiss watch employees, or 31,000 employees in 400 companies in the watch and micro-technical industry.

The agreement was signed Jan. 22 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, by the presidents and other representatives of The Swiss Watch Industry Employers’ Association (CP) and the Syndicate of Industry, Construction and Services (FTMH). Both sides said they were satisfied with the results.

The agreement, which capped 11 months of negotiations and 10 rounds of talks, is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2002, and effective until Dec. 31, 2006.

It gives employers more freedom in the fixing of salaries and of a subsidy for training costs. For employees, it improves benefits. These include setting minimal hiring salaries, a higher participation by employers in illness insurance costs, an optional early retirement pension, extension of maternity leave to 16 weeks and adoption leave.

The agreement (“Convention collective de travail” in French, or CCT) is the twelfth between Swiss watch industry employers and employees since 1937.