Conflict in Unia union escalates and more Latest news here



The employees of the Bern-Oberaargau-Emmental section of Unia wrote a letter of protest against their bosses.

Fabien Eberhard

Zoff in the largest union in Switzerland: A dispute broke out between the base and the bosses of Unia Bern. It’s a matter of pressure, stress and an authoritarian style of leadership.

Last week, the dispute culminated in a protest march. The employees of the Unia Bern-Oberargau-Emmental unit sent a letter of protest to their management.

The letter is available to SonntagsBlick. The authors write: “For a long time, we have found that management’s behavior towards us, the employees, lacks the open and decent interaction that was once cultivated in unity. There is talk of forced transfers and allegedly arbitrary dismissals.

The employees describe the behavior of the bosses as “authoritarian” in the letter. Employees are demanding more transparency and honesty, compliance with staff regulations and “real staff participation instead of an employer dictatorship”.

enormous pressure

SonntagsBlick spoke to affected employees. Anja*, who worked as a union secretary for many years, raises serious allegations against her superiors: “Unia made me sick. After years of overtime and unachievable goals, I was on the verge of collapse. Now I am on sick leave. The pressure from above is immense. “Our commitment to good is exploited without mercy – we sacrifice ourselves, but we are squeezed like lemons and then thrown away.” Unia bosses would not care about human fate.

Anja still hopes that the situation will improve and that the frustration of the employees will not worsen further. “Management must take us seriously. Conditions must improve.

Ignored by bosses

Benjamin* was also employed by Unia Bern – until his health collapsed. Today, he says: “Unia was responsible for that. My superiors asked me more and more. Sometimes I worked up to 150 percent. Bosses ignored calls for help.

The conflict at Unia Bern has been brewing for a long time. It finally started last May when the bosses informed the employees during a meeting that the Bern and Haute-Aargovie-Emmental sections were going to be merged.

In the meantime, the merger has been completed – without the public noticing. According to the minutes of the meeting, the board of directors justified the merger by saying that “not everything was going well” in the Oberaargau-Emmental section for a long time. And the staff is on the attack. The number of members, which has been steadily declining for years, also played a role.

Trade unionists on the ground see the merger as a neoliberal tactic towards centralized structures. The regions have been neglected and starved by the national leadership for years, even though Unia’s headquarters sits on assets worth millions.

Unia headquarters denied

The head office denies the allegations. Employee representation could not be “confirmed”. Philipp Zimmermann, media spokesman, said: “The national leadership is concerned that Bern-Oberargau-Emmental is the Unia region which has consistently lost the most members over the past ten years and that the objectives set by the region itself are far from being achieved. achieved. This is why the regional management should react and take the necessary measures.

According to Zimmermann, as in any organization, employees must achieve jointly defined and realistic goals. Zimmermann does not want to say anything about the employee protest letter: “As a matter of principle, we do not publicly comment on internal management letters.”

The Bern sections have always been the Gallic village within the Unia. In 2019, the longtime president of Unia Bernese Oberland was removed from office after a savage power struggle with the national leadership. Along with allies, he called for the resignation of Unia boss Vania Alleva and said: “Unia is run in a dictatorial way”. In 2011, a conflict between Bern and headquarters even escalated to such an extent that some of the staff went on strike for weeks.

*Names have changed

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