Trade union Nautilus International has made a joint statement with Swiss shipowners urging the Swiss government to save the Swiss flag.

They reject the Swiss government’s current proposed draft framework for shipping which misses the opportunity to ensure ships register under the flag.

The trade union claims that the number of ocean-going vessels flying the Swiss flag has been dwindling for years.

At present, only 14 ships are still part of the Swiss fleet. After the expiry of the respective guarantee granted by the Confederation for each ship under the now abolished guarantee system, these 14 ships will also leave Switzerland in the next two to five years.

“This will seal the end of the Swiss flag,” the union highlights characteristically.

From the workers’ point of view, Nautilus International said this is a great loss, as ships under the Swiss flag offer good working conditions thanks to a binding social partnership and there is a high level of protection against specific dangers at sea such as accidents, piracy, and criminalisation.

“The government is currently planning a tonnage tax. However, since in the meantime it is not imposing any obligation on shipping companies to under the Swiss flag if they take advantage of this, we reject the current draft,” Nautilus International says.

Both parties Nautilus International and Swiss Shipowners Association have expressed the opinion that there should be a link between the tonnage tax and the Swiss flag in order to maintain the flag and increase its influence on international bodies.

Apart from the link to the Swiss flag, the union clarifies that commodity trade must not benefit from the tonnage tax, and urges that a law on the tonnage tax must prevent the commodity trading industry, which is closely linked to shipping, from being able to book its huge profits as ship transports.

It says the demand for a clear and effective demarcation between shipping and commodity trading has been made to the government, by various organisations, and is part of the current ‘final’ clarifications of the law.