"We will not let our freedom of movement be taken away" - this initially ambiguous sentence has been on the homepage of the Swiss pioneer company and lingerie manufacturer Zimmerli of Switzerland since Tuesday of this week. The words are accompanied by an atmospheric picture of a couple dressed in underwear, looking confidently into the camera - usually one of the advertising subjects of the world-famous brand with a tradition of nearly 150 years.

It goes on to say: "We are dependent and we are proud of our employees from abroad. Together, we provide high-quality workmanship at our production site in Switzerland, which is respected worldwide".

It is no coincidence that Zimmerli is currently advertising with the keyword "free movement of persons": on 27 September the Swiss people will vote on the limitation initiative, which demands that Switzerland, after almost twenty years of successful practice, should manage the immigration of foreigners from the EU independently and without the free movement of persons for Swiss citizens and European neighbours. Under the agreements in force today, EU citizens have the right to live and work in Switzerland and vice versa.

 

We owe this to our employees

"We owe a clear reaction to the limitation initiative to our employees from neighbouring countries who, together with us at the production site in Switzerland, are providing genuine Swiss quality workmanship", CEO János Hée underlines the motives for the Zimmerli campaign and adds: "Around 40 highly qualified colleagues work in our factory in Mendrisio in Ticino, including numerous seamstresses from neighbouring Italy, some of whom have been with us for over 30 years!”

Moreover, the initiative leaves no room for future rapprochement: if adopted, it should not lead to new international treaties or obligations granting foreign nationals freedom of movement.

 

Threat of termination of the bilateral agreements

Adoption of the initiative would also lead to the termination of the bilateral agreements 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 before, it is important for Switzerland as well as for the European Union that the economy recovers quickly, that we can secure jobs. This also includes securing direct access to the single European market for Switzerland. After all, 75 per cent 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".

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Zimmerli of Switzerland produces the finest daywear and nightwear for men and women at its site in Mendrisio/Ticino. Carefully selected and refined natural fibres are processed by hand with the utmost precision. The mastery and experience of the company, which has been in business since 1871, guarantee quality, durability and an inimitable wearing comfort.

The head office of the company, which employs around 60 people, is located in Aarburg, Aargau.