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Autumn of discontent in the land of labour harmony

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:21
Switzerland is not known for a high level of trade union organisation or for frequent strikes. But here too, labour conflicts sometimes erupt onto the streets. This is the case with the current dispute around working conditions in the construction industry. For the second day running, on Wednesday, some 1,000 striking construction workers marched in Geneva. An estimated 1,800 took part on Tuesday. This comes after a similar protest by about 3,000 from the profession in canton Ticino on Monday. The workers are protesting what they say are deteriorating working conditions, as well as demanding that the retirement age for the industry be kept at 60. Further action is planned in the rest of the country in coming weeks, a situation that could represent one of the biggest labour protests in Switzerland in recent years. Seeds of discontent The conflict has been in the air for a while. Last autumn, for the umpteenth time, construction workers expressed dissatisfaction at not having ...
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Sexual harassment still shrouded in secrecy in big companies

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:00
In the #metoo era, there are exceptional examples of corporate leadership like IKEA Switzerland. Its code of conduct is widely disseminated among employees, and it openly admits cases of sexual harassment and has a proactive plan to address them. But, for most multinationals in Switzerland, sexual harassment is still discussed behind closed doors.  So, has anything changed in big companies since the start of the #metoo movement a year ago? The #metoo movement has led to some corporate soul-searching. “#metoo was like an earthquake in Switzerland,” says Judith Wissmann Lukesch, a trained lawyer and founder of arbeitundkonflikt.ch (Work and Conflict), which advises companies on discrimination cases and internal investigations. “Companies have started asking, could this happen to us?” It isn’t just the usual suspects either, she explains. “Companies in tourism and design fields that once saw themselves as untouchable are also asking the question.” What the movement has made ...
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Global economic competitiveness stumbles in face of technology transformation

Swissinfo EN - Wed, 10/17/2018 - 00:01
A major update to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index reveals that the global economy is ill-prepared for the transformation brought on by technology disruption.  While the United States comes the closest to the “competitive frontier” taking the top spot in the ranking, the WEF warns that government policies need to catch up to prevent rapid technological change from becoming a drag on competitiveness. Around three-quarters of economies lack sufficient innovation capabilities, impacting economic competitiveness according to the study. The annual Index, launched on Wednesday, assesses national competitiveness for 140 economies through the factors that determine an economy’s level of productivity including institutions, infrastructure, business dynamism among other areas. Evolving concept of competitiveness The Geneva-based WEF revamped the Index to reflect the changing nature of economic competitiveness in the age of rapid innovation and digital ...
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Material Testing and Destructive Physical Analysis Provides Industry with Answers

News Machinery - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 14:55

During manufacturing, each step or process that a device or product goes through typically increases its value and function, but there is also the potential to introduce issues from improper assembly, inadequate or contaminated materials, or processing challenges. - - With the increasing number of contract manufacturing arrangements, foreign outsourcing of parts, and shrinking tolerances in final products, the number of ways in which a small variation in assembling methodology or quality ca...

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The highs and lows of opening a safe drug injection centre

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:00
Switzerland’s pragmatic approach to dealing with drug addicts is often upheld as a model. Safe injection centres, which form part of Swiss policy, have existed in eight cities for over 30 years. Yet opening such facilities is fraught with difficulties, as the new Lausanne centre has shown.   At the reception desk at Lausanne’s new safe injection centre, sheets of aluminium foil, syringes, crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia are piled up in white plastic boxes.  The newly painted facility – white walls with splashes of lime green - comprises an “injection space” with four desks and chairs, an “inhalation space” for four around a circular metal table, a “sniff” room and a small health clinic with a bed.  Local councillor Oscar Tosato, one of the driving forces behind the three-year CHF4-million ($4 million) pilot project, said the centre, which opened on October 1, was the missing element in Lausanne’s portfolio of services for addicts. He is certain it will help problematic ...
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The day UBS, the biggest Swiss bank, was saved

Swissinfo EN - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 08:00
Swiss bank UBS fell victim to its high-risk strategy of expansion in the US market when the financial crisis erupted ten years ago. But the Swiss government and central bank’s plan to bail out UBS was not only successful, but profitable too. "We are not surprised by the development of the financial markets in recent weeks, but we have been surprised by the speed in which the crisis has deteriorated,” said the then Swiss president Pascal Couchepin. In his address to the media on October 16, 2008 Couchepin outlined the measures taken by the government and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to rescue the largest Swiss bank.  The tension in the press room was palpable. After the grounding in 2001 of Swissair, a national icon, Switzerland was in danger of losing another flagship company.  This time, the consequences would have been far more dramatic. In Switzerland alone, the collapse of UBS would have threatened the savings of one million private customers and the current accounts of ...
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GEA Grasso V HP – New reciprocating compressor models for NH3 heat pump solutions

News Machinery - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:48

This solution covers most of all heat pump applications in the food industry for processing and cleaning and already won this year's RAC Cooling Industry Award in the category Building Energy Project. The new compressor models are based on the currently available GEA Grasso V design and cover a swept volume range from 290 to 580 m³/h at 1,500 rpm. External oil pump guarantees continuous oil flow for maximum reliability GEA Grasso V series stands for reduced total cost of ownership (TCO...

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The Swiss hunt: collecting the reward for a year’s work

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:00
The strictly controlled hunting season is underway in Switzerland. Clare O’Dea is initiated into a ritual that draws tens of thousands of Swiss to the mountains with their rifles each autumn.   We are scrambling over loose rocks on the steep mountainside when a shot rings out. It is a quarter to eight on a pristine, sunny morning on the Euschels Pass, in the western part of the pre-Alps. Around us, the peaks create a natural amphitheatre for this most ancient of human dramas – the hunt. There is no time to stop. We are out in the open and must make it to the hiding place before the chamois arrive. I step with extra care, mindful of the story I heard the night before about the hunter who broke his leg when he slipped between two rocks. Hunting lore is full of cautionary tales. A short time later we reach a boulder the size of a minivan which will be our base and vantage point for the rest of the morning. My hunting guide is called Thomas. Fellow members of his hunting club, ...
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Opportunity knocks for Switzerland in the US

Swissinfo EN - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:00
US President Donald Trump prefers bilateral agreements to multilateral ones. For Switzerland, this signifies an opportunity – but also uncertainty. This week Switzerland’s top trade diplomat is travelling to Washington to hold talks about a possible free-trade agreement.  You can’t blame Trump for everything. EU politicians, US journalists and Chinese functionaries happily portray him as digging free trade’s grave – and it’s true that his wildly distributed punitive tariffs certainly make exchanges between countries harder.  Now, however, the drawbacks of Trump’s import-export dealings are becoming apparent: he agreed to sign a free-trade pact with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in only 90 days, at the same time upending the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Trump the businessman, it turns out, doesn’t want to be a protectionist. But he has something against supraregional packages. Abbreviations such as NAFTA, WTO or TPP are anathema to him. As a result, ...
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Hunting season, heroin addicts and a Swiss taste of Americana

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 12:00
Here are some of the stories we'll be following the week of October 15:     Monday The arrival of autumn signals the beginning of the Swiss hunting season. Like almost everything in the country, strict rules apply. We follow a group of hunters hoping to bag the elusive chamois.     Tuesday Coexistence between local residents and drug addicts has proven difficult in the city of Lausanne in western Switzerland. We examine if a new multi-million-franc safe injection centre can improve relations between the two.     Wednesday A year after the global “Me Too” campaign began, sexual harassment in the workplace is on the radar of Swiss companies. We analyse if firms are serious about tackling workplace culture or view allegations as merely a reputational risk issue.     Thursday In Islam, imams are religious guides who, unlike Christian priests, are neither required nor trained to offer pastoral care. We examine if there is a need for specialists to offer ...
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Screen romance à la Romansh

Swissinfo EN - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 11:00
Glisch, camera, acziun! The first professional feature film in Romansh, one of Switzerland’s four national languages, was a success at the Locarno Film Festival and has been picked up by an American distributor. How significant is such exposure for Romansh culture?  “Romansh might be the least widely spoken Swiss national language, but Amur Senza Fin tells in a universal language and with a wonderful sense of humour a story about love and devotion. It’s the type of film that inspires audiences all around the world.”  That was Edward Noeltner, head of Cinema Management Group (CMG), poetically explaining the potential that his LA-based company sees in Amur Senza Fin, which literally means “endless love” although the international title is Hide and Seek.  The 91-minute film was actually made for television by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo.ch’s parent company, and has a classic sitcom set-up: a rural community in eastern Switzerland gets a new priest, who turns ...
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Automated Packaging Systems Introduces 24-Inch Wide, High Loft - AirPouch® FastWrap™ Protective Packaging Material -

News Machinery - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 05:51

Automated Packaging Systems, the world leader in high-reliability bagging systems, has introduced a new AirPouch® FastWrap™ cushioning wrap that is high loft and 24 inches wide. This new, extra wide version of inflate-on-demand protective packaging material is ideal for large products shipping in large boxes, where both protection and void-fill is important. -   - AirPouch FastWrap features a patented honeycomb pattern that supports multi-directional wrapping for optimal protection. The 1....

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Automated Packaging Systems Introduces a New Line of Thermal Transfer Printers

News Machinery - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 05:23

Automated Packaging Systems, the world leader in high-reliability bagging systems, has introduced two new printers to complement its new line of Autobag® baggers. The new AutoLabel 500™ and AutoLabel 600™ Thermal Transfer Printers are specifically designed for fast and accurate inline printing, improving productivity by eliminating the need for a separating labeling operation. -   - AutoLabel printers apply labels up to 4 inches wide x 20 inches long directly on the bag. They support both...

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Automated Packaging Systems Introduces a New Line of Wide Bag Packaging Systems -

News Machinery - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 04:52

Automated Packaging Systems, the world leader in high-reliability bagging systems, has introduced two new Autobag® bag packaging systems with advanced engineering technology for flexibility and efficiency in large bag applications. The new Autobag® 600™ and Autobag® 650™ Wide Bagging Systems will accommodate a range of Autobag® bags-on-a-roll and bags-in-a-box material up to 16 inches wide by 27 inches long. -   - The Autobag 600 is a semi-automatic filling and sealing machine designed...

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Record expat pay packets and stress at work

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 17:00
Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Monday 19 The number of points – out of 20 – awarded by the Gault&Millau guide to Chef of the Year Heiko Nieder, who cooks at the Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. No one has ever reached 20 in Switzerland.  Tuesday 3 Good news for the Swiss economy, which is predicted to grow by 3% by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund. In April, the IMF had forecast Switzerland’s GDP to rise by 2.3%.  Wednesday 27.1 The Job Stress Index – published on the eve of World Mental Health Day – shows “critical” workplace stress levels rising from 25.4% in 2016 to 27.1% in 2017. Critical meaning the workload is too large for the number of people available to handle it.  Thursday 202,865 Expats in Switzerland remain the highest earners globally, bringing ...
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What the statistics don’t say about teachers’ salaries

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 13:00
How much does a schoolteacher earn in Switzerland? The federal system means that there are big differences between the cantons. There is also a gap between theory and practice. If you’re a Kindergarten teacher, you’d be better off working in the French-speaking canton of Geneva than in the southern Alpine canton of Graubünden: you’ll get CHF97,000 ($97,700) per year in the former, CHF60,000 in the latter. For primary school teachers, the story is the same: CHF97,000 in top payer Geneva, versus CHF66,000 in Italian-speaking Ticino. When it comes to secondary school, the salary gap is less: CHF105,000 in Geneva compared with CHF85,000 in the central canton of Nidwalden. Overall, the average pay for a new teacher in Switzerland with the right qualifications is CHF82,500, or CHF6,875 per month, gross (without deductions). Salaries rise through a teacher’s career, with the maximum you can earn at CHF8,700 per month… From theory to practice But it’s not quite as simple as that.
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Lopreno: ‘A philosopher who thinks with light’

Swissinfo EN - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 11:00
After publishing his photographic collection, "Voyage en Suisse" ("Journey to Switzerland"), Geneva photographer Patrick Gilliéron Lopreno continues his wanderings on the outskirts of an iconic Switzerland with "Eloge de l’invisible" ("Praise for the Invisible").  The photographer's new work has been enriched by an encounter, as unlikely as it is successful, with writer, publisher and polemicist Slobodan Despot, who wrote the preface. Left-leaning Lopreno and rightwing Despot shared their views on the Swiss landscape, its spirituality blighted by modernity. They found themselves also in agreement in their rejection of labels and fashions, as well as in their thirst for freedom.   "Anti-modern, anti-liberal, anti-system", as Swiss newspaper Le Temps described him, Slobodan Despot was totally in tune with Lopreno's work: "A book of photographs itself is  a gesture of resistance", he wrote. Resistance to what?  "First, to massification... photography, which was at first a highly ...
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GE Moves Date of Third Quarter 2018 Earnings Release and Webcast to Tuesday, October 30, 2018

News Machinery - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 17:26

GE (NYSE: GE) today announced that it has moved the date of its third-quarter earnings release and webcast to Tuesday, October 30, 2018.  The Company moved the call to allow GE Chairman and CEO Larry Culp to complete initial business reviews and site visits following his appointment on October 1. The Company will discuss the results for the third quarter ending September 30, 2018. Culp will share his initial observations, with more detail expected in early 2019.  The third-quarter earnin...

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Kiss-and-tell visa incident sparks official criticism

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 17:00
A Vietnamese woman had to share intimate relationship information to get a short-term Swiss visa. The case highlights the potential for discrimination when visa applications are processed.  The woman, whose case was described in the Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, was applying for a 30-day tourist visa to visit her boyfriend in Switzerland. She got the visa, but only after letting a clerk in Hanoi read her digital love letters – a stream of smartphone chat messages, including kissing emojis, that she and her partner had been sending to each other.  “It is an exceptional case. The error was corrected immediately,” George Farago, spokesman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), told swissinfo.ch.  The application had been handled by an external provider tasked with processing visa requests for Switzerland. Globally there are about 60 such external offices that have been engaged to reduce the visa-related workload of the Swiss embassies and consulates. However, the ...
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Public gets hands-on experience with Swiss drones in Boston

Swissinfo EN - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 17:00
Swiss drones were front and centre this week at HUBWeek, an “ideas festival” in Boston, Massachusetts dedicated to showcasing and celebrating innovations at the intersection of art, science and technology. More than 25 researchers and entrepreneurs from Switzerland’s rapidly growing drone industry came to exchange ideas, experiences and technology with their North American counterparts and the Boston public. A“flying cage” was set up so the public could experience live demonstrations of the latest drone technologies. The showcase was organised by swissnex Boston as part if its Aerial Futures: the Drone Frontier series (see box), and sponsored by SwissTouch, an event series and social media campaign aimed at promoting Swiss innovation by the Embassy of Switzerland in the US. The more than 45 drone exhibitors at the event included representatives from the Swiss Federal Technology Institute in Lausanne, EPFL, who demonstrated multiple projects including FlyJacket, a system that ...
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