Portuguese workers exploited in Switzerland

The Socialist Party deputy for emigration, Paulo Pisco, has urged the Government to contact the Swiss authorities in order to solve the increasing cases of Portuguese workers who are exploited in that country.

After visiting Switzerland, where he met with representatives of trade unions and other community members, he told Lusa news agency that there are “intermediaries” taking advantage of Portuguese immigrants in Switzerland by retaining part of their salary.

“Many receive less money than a typical Swiss doing the same job in Switzerland,” he claimed.

While the stipulated salary within the country varies between 25 and 35 Swiss francs per hour, in some cases the actual salary of the Portuguese workers is less than €10 (12.3 francs) or €5 (6.1 francs).

“It’s a clear case of labour exploitation and is a violation of all the rules and laws in the Swiss State and that is not acceptable,” said Paulo Pisco.

In some cases, the Portuguese companies that are “facing difficulties” hire and exploit the Portuguese workers. Others are hired by Swiss companies that already have sealed some kind of agreement with Portuguese companies, according to some complaints which have been made to the workers unions in Portugal.

The construction sector is the most affected but there are also reports of exploitation in other services such as catering, according to the Socialist deputy.

He has called for Government action to address the Swiss authorities in order to investigate these situations and dismantle networks of exploitation.

Besides being a negative situation for those affected, these cases represent an “embarrassment for Portugal itself” because it involves some Portuguese who break the Swiss laws by exploiting “fellow brothers”.

A move by the Portuguese could help to resolve similar situations which are said to be common nowadays in countries such as Spain and Holland.

According to the Socialist deputy, the recent migration to Switzerland includes a substantial number of graduates such as architects or engineers who often end up working in restaurants, cleaning or agriculture.