Zimmerli commits to freedom of movement
"We don't let anyone take away our freedom of movement" - this initially ambiguous sentence has been on the homepage of pioneering Swiss company and underwear manufacturer Zimmerli of Switzerland since Tuesday of this week. The words are underpinned by an evocative image of a couple dressed in underwear, looking confidently at the camera - usually one of the advertising subjects of the world-renowned brand with almost 150 years of tradition.
It goes on to say: "We rely on and we are proud of our employees from abroad. Together with them, we provide high-quality workmanship at the production site in Switzerland, which is respected worldwide."
It is no coincidence that Zimmerli is using the keyword free movement of people to advertise at this particular time: on September 27, the Swiss people will vote on the limitation initiative, which demands that Switzerland independently manage the immigration of foreigners from the EU after almost twenty years of successful practice and without the previous so-called free movement of persons for Swiss citizens and its European neighbors. According to the agreements in force today, citizens of the EU have the right to live and work in Switzerland and vice versa.
We owe this to our employees
"We owe an unequivocal response to the limitation initiative to our employees from neighboring countries who, together with us, provide genuine Swiss workmanship at the production site in Switzerland," CEO János Hée underscores the motives behind the Zimmerli campaign, adding, "Around 40 highly qualified colleagues work at our manufacturing facility in Mendrisio in Ticino, including numerous seamstresses from neighboring Italy, and some of them have been doing so for over 30 years!"
The initiative also leaves no room for future rapprochement: no new international treaties or obligations that would grant foreign nationals free movement of persons would be allowed to be entered into if the initiative is approved.
Termination of bilateral treaties looms
Adoption of the initiative would also lead to the termination of bilateral treaties with the EU, including all trade agreements and the Schengen Agreement, which guarantees freedom of travel on the European continent.
"Right now, more than ever, what matters in Switzerland and in the European Union is that the economy recovers quickly, that we can secure jobs. This also includes securing direct access to the European single market for Switzerland. After all, 75 percent of our value creation at Zimmerli takes place on the European continent," says CEO János Hée, adding: "The Swiss sales market is far too small for Swiss companies. Stable relations with Europe, the most important sales market for Swiss exports, are therefore indispensable."
Zimmerli of Switzerland produces the finest day and nightwear for men and women at its site in Mendrisio/Ticino. Carefully selected and refined natural fibers are processed with the utmost precision in elaborate handwork. The mastery and experience of the company, which has been in business since 1871, guarantee quality, durability and an inimitable feel.
The headquarters of the company, which employs around 60 people, is located in Aarburg, Aargau.