More than 2,000 employees from the Geneva university hospitals (HUG) in Switzerland have signed a petition asking for dramatic changes to their working conditions and pension fund allowances. Keen to provide quality public services, they denounce the declining work conditions that they face daily, and which prevent them from providing the services required.
Decline in working conditions at HUG
For several years now, HUG employees in all the sectors of the hospitals have more and more work to do, while staff numbers have declined. The effect on the workers is dramatic – overwork, stress, pressure and burn-out are common among staff. Management, instead of supporting the workers, is making matters worse by bending rules to introduce more flexible working conditions, to the detriment of the staff’s well-being. In this already strained context, the hospital administrations have announced further privatisation and cuts, for example in ambulatory operating theatres.
Decline in pension rights
Since the creation of the Provident Fund of the State of Geneva (CPEG) in 2014, the future pensions of public sector and subsidized workers have greatly deteriorated following successive reforms of the pension fund. Soon, the Grand Council of Geneva will have to choose between two opposing projects of pension reform. The first is the draft law of the State Council, and the second is known as PL 12228, filed by the opposition (l’Alternative) and the Geneva Citizens’ Movement (MCG).
The State Council project would severely reduce the pensions of public sector workers by moving from the present system of “priority of benefits” to one of “primacy of contributions”. The consequences of the change would be difficult for all, but disastrous for women who work part-time and for people with low salaries. The project proposed by l’Alternative and the MCG would guarantee the present pension conditions and would maintain the principle of solidarity among public sector workers.
The HUG employees are already being attacked in their working conditions and pensions and they now fear for the quality of care and of the public services they provide. They are calling on members of the government and the Grand Council of Geneva to hear their voices, while the HUG management turns a deaf ear to their distress.