Nautilus Switzerland branch is supporting an exemption from a new minimum wage of 21 francs (Euro19.58) for crew aboard inland waterway vessels working outside of the country.
The trade union is concerned that, because the minimum wage levels in other EU countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands remain below that of the new minimum wage in the Swiss Canton Basel City, river cruise operators would relocate jobs to low-cost flag states such as Malta, Cyprus, or Eastern European countries to remain competitive.
'We are convinced that a possible minimum wage enacted in Basel City - should it then also apply outside Switzerland - would have no positive effects whatsoever for inland navigation operators. Neither for those working on a Swiss ship nor for those working under another European flag,' Nautilus Switzerland national organiser Holger Schatz said.
'In fact, no one would receive such a minimum wage at all, as there would no longer be any companies based in Basel offering river cruises on the Rhine or the Danube.'
Nautilus is further concerned that hard-won benefits of the Swiss social insurance scheme would be further eroded in a move to flag-out.
'We and our partners within the ETF (European Transport Workers Federation) are making great efforts to gradually raise working conditions in this sector in a coordinated manner throughout Europe. Applying a possible Basel minimum wage to Swiss ships abroad would in fact counteract this concern,' Mr Schatz said.