The industry is worried: ‘A new lockdown could be fatal’


CdT onthespot reached out to Fabio Regazzi, president of the Associazione Industrie Ticinesi (AITI).

The industry is worried: ‘A new lockdown could be fatal’
For entrepreneurs, another block of production would not be bearable. © CDT / Gabriele Putzu

The industry is worried: ‘A new lockdown could be fatal’

For entrepreneurs, another block of production would not be bearable. © CDT / Gabriele Putzu

The situation on coronavirus represents a great source of uncertainty for the Swiss industrial sector, and above all the prospect of a new lockdown causes many concerns among entrepreneurs.

This is why Swissmechanic, the association of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the machinery, electrotechnical and metallurgical (MEM) industry, has raised an alarm: another confinement must absolutely be avoided and to achieve this goal companies and society must commit themselves.

Many companies are in a difficult situation with many struggling to survive. In this critical situation, a second lockdown would be toxic

President Roland Goethe, quoted in the note.

What is the atmosphere like in the Swiss and Ticino industrial sector?

The concern for the possibility of a second lockdown - he explains - is palpable, and adds to the difficulties that we already find ourselves experiencing. We must not think that the situation is calm. Indeed, quite the opposite and any new closure would be fatal for us. So it is an option that we cannot even consider’.

We are all in a limbo that destabilises us

‘The Ticino industry - he notes - records a sharp decline in turnover, even if a generalised speech cannot be made. For example, the pharmaceutical industry is holding up, but the engineering sector has suffered a drastic drop in sales, so much so that in some cases reaches 50-60%. So the situation is very difficult, and there is no prospect of improvement in the short or medium term. Beyond the positive forecasts of the various economic institutes, those at the front say something else. Furthermore, I trust the assessments of those on the market much more, and feel the pulse of the situation much better. No one can make reliable predictions, but everyone in the industry agrees that the situation will remain difficult for a long time to come - and it’s more likely to get worse, not better’.

Impact on employment

‘Moreover it is inevitable - he specifies - that this situation will sooner or later have repercussions also on the employment front. In fact, reduced work and COVID credits represent bridging measures, and therefore will lapse - from then on, if there is no robust recovery there is no other option than to adapt labour to the new volumes of work. I think there will be bankruptcies and restructuring’.

‘Among other things - he notes - the September unemployment figure, which fell compared to that of August, should be read in relation to that of a year earlier - it appears that in Switzerland there are 50,000 more unemployed, this is despite the use of reduced hours’.

‘At this moment for the industry - he says - there are not many possibilities to defend itself. If the demand collapses, the chances of being able to fix it are very limited. The strategy of lowering prices is also not feasible, because you are already working with tight margins. There is a certain sense of powerlessness, because it is a crisis that affects the entire planet, and we cannot look for other markets’.

‘I am now in internal Switzerland and I am visiting a small company - he explains - which exports 80% of its production. The company has produced machines, which are finished, but are still in limbo as customers are not collecting them which has a knock on effect because technicians cannot be sent to install them. In short, it is a dramatic situation. Even at the Ticino level there is a heaviness. Perhaps the most critical aspect is not so much the difficulties themselves but the uncertainty, which is a poison for entrepreneurial activity’.

Safety first

Swissmechanic urges the MEM industry to do whatever it takes to ensure compliance with clearance and hygiene regulations. ‘The SMEs in the sector have already shown that they know how to comply with these standards: only in this way has it been possible to maintain production even during confinement’. Fortunately, the association argues, MEM industries have been spared from temporary closures, with the exception of canton Ticino, which was particularly hit in the first wave.

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Ultime notizie: OnTheSpot
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