European Journalists Salute Swiss Court Victory for Trade Union Rights at Metro

The European Federation of Journalists today congratulated Swiss journalists on securing an unprecedented court victory against the global media group Metro that guarantees trade union rights.

The two EFJ affiliates in Switzerland, the Swiss Federation of Journalists and CoMedia, and a number of affected journalists, took the case after Metro, which produces newspapers in a number of metropolitan centres worldwide, carried out sackings of staff and closed its Zurich operation without warning.

The judgement of the Swiss Upper Court announced: “The sudden closure of the free newspaper Metropol and the resulting mass redundancies has violated the basic participation and information rights as enshrined in Swiss labour law. The dismissals are unlawful.”

Metro (Switzerland), a subsidiary of Metro International, which is part of the Modern Times Group, failed to properly inform and consult staff prior to mass redundancies thereby violating Art 355f par.1 of Swiss labour law. Metro (Switzerland) having lost in the labour court also lost an appeal in the upper court.

The EFJ, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, had accused the owners of Metro of a "violation of fundamental rights" after the decision to close the paper in February last year.

“This very important court decision shows that global companies cannot neglect national and local labour laws,” said Gustl Glattfelder, chair of the EFJ. “It further proves how vital unions and other actors are in bringing violations of such matters to the courts and thereby guaranteeing the respect of existing social standards. We hope the staff affected will now receive compensation.”

The EFJ and IFJ had already taken up the case of the defence of Metro staff in the Netherlands where earlier cuts were made and asked Metro management to respect labour and professional standards worldwide.

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