The resolution of a labor dispute, such as a disagreement with an employee or a wage claim, involves various legal procedures.
A distinction is made between two types of labor disputes: those associated with individual relations, such as a disagreement with an employee, and those associated with collective relations, such as a wage claim by a union. Different bodies are responsible for settling individual and collective disputes.
In the case of a dispute arising from individual working relations (from an employment contract, for example), employment tribunals are usually called upon to reach a decision. Employment tribunals are cantonal civil courts.
For a collective labor dispute, parties usually need to refer to the cantonal reconciliation offices. A Federal Conciliation Office also exists for collective labor disputes, and may intervene if the dispute extends beyond the territory of the canton. This office only intervenes if both parties – employer and union – request it, where they have failed in their direct negotiations with a view to settlement.
Negotiation is favored
In Switzerland, most disputes between employers and employees are settled by negotiation rather than by extreme measures such as strikes or lockouts (the employer’s removal of the possibility of working). However, strikes and lockouts are part of the rights established in the Federal Constitution, although they are subject to certain conditions.