Declaration on the future of work and the social partnership in Switzerland

At a ceremony held in Bern on October 18, 2018, Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and the leaders of the federations for Switzerland’s social partners signed a tripartite declaration on the future of work and the social partnership in Switzerland in the era of the digitalisation of the economy. The event was organised by SECO’s Labour Directorate and was attended by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Digitalisation is having a significant influence on structural change and economic growth. A country such as Switzerland, which lacks natural resources but has an innovative economy, needs to make the best possible use of the opportunities that digitalisation brings. Digital transformation is also creating major challenges for the social partnership. Swiss social partners have therefore decided to join forces to tackle the changes brought about by the digitalisation of the economy and technological developments in the workplace and in society.

By signing this declaration, the social partners express their continued commitment to a strong social partnership that is equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s workplace. They aim to continue in their efforts to consolidate the competitiveness and success of the Swiss economy, while at the same time adapting employment and social conditions in order to create and retain decent jobs for highly qualified workers. The signing of the tripartite declaration is one of the events being held to mark the ILO’s centenary in 2019.

The parties recognise that our system of vocational education and training and collective employment agreements play a key role in the search for innovative and inclusive ways of adapting to the structural changes caused by digitalisation.

In addition, the social partners want to exploit the opportunities that technological developments bring to achieve a better balance between work and family and leisure and working time.

The parties are dedicated to continuing their open and pragmatic tripartite dialogue on the issues mentioned in the declaration.

Lastly, the declaration also confirms Switzerland’s commitment to international labour standards and the fundamental goals of the ILO, namely social justice, social dialogue and creating decent jobs. The declaration acknowledges the ILO’s key role in promoting multilateral social partnerships as an instrument for developing and strengthening confidence in the future of employment around the globe.

The associations that signed the declaration were represented by Valentin Vogt, president of the Confederation of Swiss Employers; Daniela Schneeberger, vice president of the Swiss Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises; Adrian Wüthrich, president of Travail.Suisse, and Vania Alleva, Vice President of the Confederation of Swiss Trade Unions.

The explicit text of the declaration.

Tripartite declaration on the future of work and social partnership in Switzerland in the digital business age

We, as the tripartite representatives of the State, and employer and trade union

federations, – The Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and

Research (EAER), Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, together with the

Labour Directorate of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs (SECO),

– The President of the Swiss Employers Confederation (SAV), Valentin Vogt,

– The Vice-President of the Swiss Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-Sized

Enterprises (SGV), Daniela Schneeberger,

– The President of Travail.Suisse, Adrian Wüthrich,

– The Vice-President of the Confederation of Swiss Trade Unions (SGB), Vania Alleva,

Together recollect and acknowledge

– That the International Labour Organization (ILO) will be celebrating its 100th

anniversary in 2019,

– That Switzerland has been a member of the Geneva-based ILO since its founding in


– That the ILO is the only tripartite specialist agency of the United Nations, bringing

together governments, employers and workers,

– That ratified ILO standards are binding on Switzerland and serve as guiding principles,

– That Switzerland supports the Future of Work Initiative launched by ILO Director-

General Guy Ryder as part of the ILO’s centenary in 2019,


– Switzerland’s commitment to the principles and core values of the ILO, namely the  promotion of peace through social justice, dialogue and partnership as well as tripartism at multiple levels of government,

– The positive impact of ILO standards on the world of work in Switzerland and worldwide,

– Switzerland’s strategic commitment to reinforcing ILO activities, which promote social dialogue and address the social issues arising from globalisation,

– The work of the Tripartite Commission for ILO Affairs as part of the ILO’s centenary,


– That vibrant, confidence-building social partnership is essential for ensuring a constant balancing of worker and employer interests and for offering framework conditions that enable both sides to share in economic success and reduce business risk,

– That the following pillars are necessary for embodying true social partnership:

– Collective employment agreements (CEA), which offer the flexibility to accommodate both the specific characteristics of their respective industries and occupations as well as economic circumstances,

– Joint solutions in areas such as occupational health and safety (industry solutions), vocational training and further education, state pensions and occupational pensions founded on collective employment agreements,

– Involvement of social partners in federal and cantonal tripartite bodies regulating the labour market,

– That maintaining these pillars is vital for meeting future challenges relating to work and the safeguarding of social welfare,

– That the goal of this vibrant, confidence-building social partnership is to achieve sustainable economic growth that offers companies competitive framework conditions and provides as many people as possible with the opportunity to earn a living under decent working conditions, thereby laying the foundation for the economic and personal prosperity of all strata of society,

Hereby adopt the tripartite declaration for constructive social partnership with regard to the future of work in Switzerland, convinced that technological advancements and societal progress will lead to change, so that:

– Our sustainable economic growth will continue to build on our established and pragmatic social-partnership system in the digital era, and that this system meets the potential challenges posed by digitalisation head on,

– Social partnership remains a cornerstone of Switzerland’s economic success and continues to ensure sound labour policies,

– Labour-market stakeholders are able to set pragmatic goals through a consensus-driven approach, engaging as equals in constructive, fair dialogue in order to contribute sustainably to well-being, decent work and the prosperity of Switzerland,

– The framework conditions supporting our economy continue to guarantee a positive investment climate that is based on legal certainty and which creates high-quality jobs,

– Our social partnership works efficiently to protect the working and wage conditions in Switzerland while functioning inside an open global-trade system,

– Our diverse education system – which is closely linked to the professional world – and further-education opportunities contribute to economic success, reaffirming and reinforcing our culture of social partnership between employer and worker federations,

– Digitalisation benefits both workers and employers,

– Social partnership offers the means to positively shape new technological advancements such as digitalisation through open, pragmatic and goal-oriented dialogue, taking into account the special circumstances of individual industries and regions, so that:

– Social partners are able to discuss future work relationships and aim for innovative, sustainable solutions that promote opportunities to improve the balance between professional and family life, as well as between work and leisure time,

– The protection of all parties entering contracts under employment law remains guaranteed,

– Workers assume the responsibility of pursuing ongoing training and further education as a component of lifelong learning, and that this is encouraged by employers.

Aware of our changing environment, we invite the tripartite stakeholders to continue discussing these points regularly under the aegis of SECO and to confront head on the challenges linked to the future of work and social partnership in Switzerland.

In conclusion, we hereby reaffirm

– That the ILO and its tripartite structure enable us to respond effectively to the challenges of a digitalised and globalised economy and that all economic stakeholders, including social partners, must dedicate themselves to overcoming these challenges, thereby creating opportunities to promote decent work in Switzerland and worldwide,

– That social dialogue and social partnership are instrumental in shoring up confidence in the future world of work.