Employees of the Bern-Oberargau-Emmental section of Unia have written a protest letter against their masters.
Disputes have erupted between the base and the owners at the Zoff: Unia Bern, the largest union in Switzerland. It is about pressure, tension and an authoritarian leadership style.
Last week, the controversy culminated in a protest march. The employees of the Unia unit Bern-Oberargau-Emental gave a letter of protest to their management.
The letter is available for SonntagsBlick. In it, the authors write: “For a long time we have been seeing management’s behavior towards our employees, which lacks the open and civilized conversations that were cultivated in the unit.” There is talk of forced transfers and allegedly arbitrary layoffs.
Employees refer to bosses’ behavior as “authoritarian” in the letter. Employees demand greater transparency and honesty, compliance with personnel regulations and “real participation of employees rather than employer dictatorship”.
SonntagsBlick spoke to affected employees. Anja*, who had served as union secretary for several years, made serious allegations against her superiors: “Uniya made me ill. After years of overtime and unattainable goals, I was on the verge of collapse. Now I’m on sick leave.” The pressure from above is enormous. “Our commitment to the good is ruthlessly exploited – we sacrifice ourselves, but are squeezed like lemons and then thrown away.” Unia’s masters will not care about human fate.
Anja is still hopeful that the situation will improve and that the frustration among the employees will not increase further. “We have to take the management seriously. The conditions need to improve.”
ignored by owners
Benjamin* was also employed by Unia Byrne – until her health deteriorated. Today he says: “Uniya was to blame for this. My superiors kept demanding more and more from me. Sometimes I worked up to 150 percent.” The owners ignored calls for help.
The conflict in Unia Bern has been raging for a long time. This was finally ignited last May when at a meeting the staff was informed by the owners that the Bern and Oberargau-Emmental sections were to be merged.
Meanwhile, the merger is complete – unnoticed by the public. According to the minutes of the meeting, the board justified the merger by saying that “not everything was going smoothly” in the Obergau–Emmental section for a long time. And the employee is under attack. The number of members, which has been steadily declining over the years, also played a part.
Trade unionists on the ground see mergers as a neoliberal strategy towards centralized structures. The areas have been neglected and starved by the national management over the years, even though the Unia headquarters sit on property worth lakhs.
denial from uni headquarter
The head office denied the allegations. The representation of the employees could not be “confirmed”. Media spokesman Philipp Zimmermann says: “The national management is fueled by concerns that the Bern-Oberargau-Emental is the UNIA region that has consistently lost the most members over the past ten years, and that the goals set by the region are not being achieved. Far away. Achieved.” So it is right for the regional management to react and take necessary steps.
According to Zimmerman, like any organization, employees must jointly meet defined and realistic goals. Zimmerman didn’t want to say anything about employees’ protest letters: “As a principle, we do not publicly comment on internal letters to management.”
The Bern square has always been a Gallic village within Unia. In 2019, the longtime president of the Unia Bernese Oberland was sacked after a wild power struggle with the national management. He, together with allies, called for the resignation of Unia boss Vania Alleva, saying: “Unia is run by a dictatorship.” In 2011, a dispute between Byrne and headquarters escalated to the point that some of the workforce went on strike for weeks.