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Trade Union Flags – Switzerland

Last modified: 2023-03-18 by martin karner
Keywords: trade union |
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Trade unions in one form or the other have a long tradition in Switzerland. Most of the organisations originally were organised along rather specific crafts and trades, in a rather corporatist way. Over the years, many of the small organisations have merged to give rise to larger, presumably more powerful organisations.

Traditionally, most trade unions have clustered around three federations:

1. the SGB/USS (Schweizerischer Gewerkschaftsbund / Union syndicale suisse / Unione sindacale svizzera = Swiss Federation of Trade Unions), the largest of the federations, in the social-democratic tradition;

2. the VSA/FSE/FSI (Vereinigung Schweizerischer Angestelltenverbände / Fédération des sociétés suisses d'employés / Federazione delle società svizzere degli impiegati = Federation of Swiss White-Collar Employee Unions), that catered for the more bourgeois white-collar workers;

3. the CNG/CSC/FSSC (Christlichnationaler Gewerkschaftsbund der Schweiz / Confédération des syndicats chrétiens de Suisse / Federazione svizzera dei sindacati cristiani = Federation of Christian Trade Unions of Switzerland), a federation in the Christian-social (mainly Catholic) tradition.

The latter two (VSA and CNG) have merged in 2002 to establish "Travail.Suisse".

Although mergers (and some splits) have occurred over most of the trade unions' lifetimes, particularly the last about 20 years have seen an increased concentration process among the member organizations of the (now two) federations.

In addition to the organizations in the two federations, there are a large, basically uncountable number of independent organizations, still mainly professional associations rather than trade unions.

In three of the cantons (Ticino, Graubünden and Geneva), local/cantonal trade unions play a large role; in the remaining parts of Switzerland, the nationwide organizations prevail.

At least the larger (and more activist) of the trade unions do use flags, mass-produced ones for rallies as well as more traditional banners. However, I have not found flags of the federations (SGB, Travail.Suisse, VSA or CNG).

M. Schmöger, 12 January 2016