Thursday , September 29 2022

Switzerland, a land of strikes


By Michael Van Oursau, November 17, 2018

History reload

The state strike was a decisive event for modern Switzerland: soldiers guard the Bundesau during the strike. Photo: Keystone

The Swiss labor force is diligent, good and productive. That was the picture Switzerland liked to spread. But just a hundred years ago, Switzerland experienced a general strike with extensive work. Hundreds of thousands of cities in Switzerland, which was built in November 1918. The massive refusal to work was even called a "state strike" because of its expansion. The strike was monstrous in Switzerland, marked in Paris!

It is still happening today – countless commemorative events, exhibitions, lectures, TV films, theater and discussion will be held this fall. Even Federal Council member Alain Brest responded to this, and Christoph Blocher also expressed his opposite opinion.

What was forgotten: the general strike was not a single phenomenon-but Switzerland was then a particularly friendly country. In the general strike of 1918 alone there were 264 strikes in Switzerland with 24,109 strikers. In 1919 there were 233 strikes and in 1920 still 174. In the left-wing newspaper one spoke proudly about the "thunderstorm". On the other hand, today's Italy as a country seems modest.

Building, stone separators, carpenters

Improvement of working conditions by refusal to work was also tried and tested means in this country in 1918. The money was less expensive, and bread and milk rose more and more, twice the war. This led the country, to the point of dissatisfaction and drove the workers on the streets. Incidentally, the most willing to hit were the builders, followed by stone-breakers and carpenters. But even in the Swiss textile, metal, clock and machine industries, it came again and again to work breaks.

An example of the many that caused the feeling was a labor dispute in Lucerne. He worked for a company called the Longest Steam Boat Company on Lake Lucerne and lasted between July 1919 and December 1920. "The mood of the crew, and in general, is bitter," the Lucerne News wrote. "With the impatience of the workers, the Marathon cantons have a debt Great to do, preventing support from the steamer company. " The labor dispute affected not only Lucerne but five cantons around Lake Lucerne.

Pride of Central Switzerland: The steamer Uri (built in 1901) is the oldest used Raddamper in Switzerland. Photo: Coronado 1992 (Wikipedia)

The team wanted from wages before equality to the federal traffic team. But the "Union Conference" with the management of the team did not bring any concessions. Therefore, coal loaders, stokers, machinists, cashiers, inspectors, sailors, minors and captains decided with 163 against 5 votes on the strike. What no one could imagine: the Gallia, Schiller, Lucerne, and what were called the heroic steamboats, just lay there.

The steamer was an incomparable shame in the tourist area of ​​central Switzerland, which tried again only after the First World War. Even the proud steamer, the characters in the mysterious heart of Switzerland, did not spare the crisis. After two days the management surrendered reluctantly and fulfilled all the team's demands.

High waves due to layoffs

But soon the next storm came: the labor force demanded inflation allowances. Instead of negotiating, the ship company argued with the rampant economic crisis and reduced all wages by 300 francs immediately, and in addition fired 13 workers, some of whom had 24 years of experience. These measures threw high waves, not only among the workers, but at the public around Lake Lucerne.

In a protest rally in the "Lion Garden" hall, "over 1200 people" participated, "as he wrote," from all the political circles of citizenship. " The mass placed a powerful steam. The ship masters could not let the storm pass, but they had to react. They recruited five of the laid-off workers, four of whom received payments of 150 francs a year.

This revealed the difference between a large-scale national strike and a local labor dispute: the heads of the state strike were forced to answer in court and received sentences; The leaders of the strike of Lucerne were successful and celebratory.


  • Rossfeld, Roman / Collar, Christian / Student, Brig. (Ed.); The state strike, Switzerland in November 2018; Baden.
  • Ursau, Michael van Vogel, Locke; Shiny gold and shade; Central Switzerland in the 1920s; Lucerne.

Source link