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Non-family Labour in the Swiss Agriculture: A Status Report and Future Prospects


  • Huey Shy Chau

    (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Awanish Kumar

    (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India)

  • Silva Lieberherr

    (University of Zurich, Switzerland)


Although agricultural labour productivity has been increasing due to technical progress, agricultural holdings continue to be under price pressure. We argue that we need to critically engage with Swiss production conditions from the workers› perspectives. This paper focuses on the working conditions of non-family farm workers and their future prospects. In relating the changing production conditions to the idea of domestic fair trade, we investigate existing initiatives› potential to create better working conditions. We draw on interviews with migrant workers, farmers, and different representatives of agricultural labour in Switzerland. The results show that nonfamily labour is physically strenuous work with flexible working hours, low wage payment, and little recognition. While introducing a domestic fair trade label is a step in the right direction, it still only improves the working conditions for a fraction of all non-family workers. Therefore, it cannot be a substitute for stronger unions and government regulations.

Suggested Citation

  • Huey Shy Chau & Awanish Kumar & Silva Lieberherr, 2015. "Non-family Labour in the Swiss Agriculture: A Status Report and Future Prospects," Journal of Socio-Economics in Agriculture (Until 2015: Yearbook of Socioeconomics in Agriculture), Swiss Society for Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, vol. 8(1), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:cha:ysa001:v:8:y:2015:i:1:p:1-10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Benjamin Huybrechts & Darryl Reed, 2010. "Introduction: “Fair Trade in Different National Contexts”," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 92(2), pages 147-150, April.
    2. Leonardo Becchetti & Marco Costantino, 2010. "Fair Trade in Italy: Too Much ‘Movement’ in the Shop?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 92(2), pages 181-203, April.
    3. Nil Özçağlar-Toulouse & Amina Béji-Bécheur & Matthieu Gateau & Philippe Robert-Demontrond, 2010. "Demystifying Fair Trade in France: The History of an Ambiguous Project," Post-Print hal-01598067, HAL.
    4. Jesús Alvarado, 2009. "Fair Trade in Mexico and Abroad: An Alternative to the Walmartopia?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 88(2), pages 301-317, September.
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    More about this item


    Non-family labour; Domestic fair trade; Agriculture; Switzerland;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J5 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining


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