November 1, 2015 / 12:12 PM / 4 years ago

Swiss industry hikes work hours to compensate for "franc shock" - newspaper

ZURICH, Nov 1 (Reuters) - At least 70 Swiss manufacturers have increased employees’ working hours this year, a newspaper said on Sunday, under measures to compensate for a strengthening of the Swiss franc that has hurt exports.

The companies, which represent about 7 percent of roughly 1,000 members of the Swissmem industry lobby, increased workers’ hours after the Swiss National Bank abandoned its cap on the franc at 1.20 per euro in January, NZZ am Sonntag reported.

Swissmem represents the machinery, electrical and metal industries.

Among companies that have hiked working hours to the legal maximum of 45 hours are machining and automation company Mikron , building materials maker Eternit Schweiz and Siemens Building Technology, the newspaper reported.

The typical working week at Swiss firms is around 40 hours.

“Since reducing pay is extremely difficult, many companies opted to increase hours at the same pay,” said Jan-Egbert Sturm, director of the KOF economic research group.

While in other countries that might have led to unrest, the Swiss system of consensus between employers and employees had kept grumbling in check, he said.

Some employees’ groups say they are alarmed about the trend.

“Industry is trying to turn the clock back,” said Daniel Lampart, chief economist of the Swiss union association Schweizer Gewerkschaftbund.

The franc is now trading at 1.086 per euro. (Reporting by John Miller; editing by Andrew Roche)

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