Glance around Switzerland: Begging fines, cable car rescue and ID cards for illegal immigrants

Our round up of stories that you might have missed this week includes protests against begging fines, an emergency cable car rescue, continued construction strikes and more.

Glance around Switzerland: Begging fines, cable car rescue and ID cards for illegal immigrants
lostation/ / depositphotos

We have tried to give you a brief overview of each chosen story as well as a link so you can read more and follow up on it, if you want. 

Hundreds protest begging fines 

Photo: halfpoint / depositphotos

A crowd of around 250 people took to the streets of Lausanne this week to protest against a begging ban in canton Vaud, which came into effect on Thursday.

As a result of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) 2016 initiative, people caught begging could now face a fine of up to 100 francs. Anybody found organising begging rings or making minors/dependants beg will be fined 500-2000 francs.

Ada Marra, of the Social Democratic Party, said it was regrettable that the “protection of the weakest was no longer guaranteed” and that the “poorest are now being criminalised”. 

More on this story can be found on the Blick website.


Rescued from cable car nightmare

Photo: kamizz / depositphotos

Eight people had to be rescued from a stranded cable car in the Rhine Valley by the Alpine Rescue Switzerland team (SAC) on Wednesday. Trapped passengers had to rappel from the cable car to get to safety during the two-hour ordeal.

The accident was the result of an empty cable car, further down the hill, becoming dislodged from its support cable and falling 12 metres to the ground. It is said to have caused more than ten thousand francs in damages.

Alarmingly, the cable car involved was only opened in April this year. At the time it was heralded as a world first due to it being self-operated. In the event of high winds, the system is supposed to automatically stop cable cars from being active. Reports suggest it was very windy when the incident happened. 

Authorities are currently investigating the cause and cable cars have been stopped until further notice. Pictures and more information can be found on Der Bund website.


Zurich wants ID card for all

Advocates show support for the ID card. The placard reads: “No person is illegal. Photo: Züri City Card Facebok Page

On Wednesday this week, Zurich city parliament voted in favour of introducing identity cards for all residents – including the estimated 14,000 ‘Sans Papiers’ or people living there illegally.

Advocates of the ‘Zuri City Card’ say all citizens of Zurich – regardless of residence status – should be allowed basic human rights and that the card would allow people to identify themselves to authorities, in particular the police.

They also say the card should grant holders access to public and private services without the fear of being arrested.

Zurich’s city council was itself against the motion, suggesting that giving illegal immigrants an identity card “could give undocumented migrants a false sense of security”.

More on this story can be found on SRF.


Construction strikes continue

Photo: jekershner7 / depositphotos

Following on from earlier strikes in Ticino and Geneva, another 1500 construction workers in the French speaking part of Switzerland put down their tools this week on Tuesday.

Strikers are a fairly rare occurrence in Switzerland but have been more regular this year (including 18,000 people striking last June in Zurich) due to ongoing issues over a new union agreement in the construction sector – particularly related to retirement age.

Read more: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

This week, was the turn of workers from the cantons of Freiburg, Neuchâtel, Valais and Jura. The strike saw 80% of construction sites in Neuchâtel closed. More construction workers across Switzerland are expected to follow suit next week.

More on this story can be found on Le Journal du Jura website.


Capsule hotel opens in Lucerne

One of the pods on offer at Capsule Hotel Lucerne. Photo: Capsule Hotel Lucerne Facebook page

Earlier we showed you pictures of the brand new M-Budget hotel which has opened in St Gallen. But if that doesn’t sound like your thing, you might want try the Capsule Hotel in Lucerne.

As in similar hotels in Japan, guests sleep in small, futuristic bunker-like rooms to maximise space. From November 5, guests will be able to choose from the 19 pods on offer there.

The new hotel offers four different types of ‘rooms’ – including a larger premium pod and an option for women. 

Read more: In Pictures: First ever M-Budget hotel room unveiled


Arnie allies with Switzerland 

Arnold Schwarzenegger with the University of Zurich's Christian Schwarzenegger. Photo: University of Zurich

The University of Zurich has forged an unlikely alliance with action movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Swiss university will work alongside the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the non-profit organisation R20 – founded by Schwarzenegger – on the ‘Green Economy and Finance Initiative’.

“(We) will work together to accelerate the transition to sustainable clean energy and make the world safer and healthier for all its citizens,” said former Mr Olympia Schwarzenegger, in a statement on Monday.

More on this story can be read on the SwissInfo website.



Police clear pro-Palestinian camp from Swiss university

Swiss police moved in early on Wednesday to remove dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters holed up in the University of Bern, the school said in a statement.

Police clear pro-Palestinian camp from Swiss university

Student demonstrations have gathered pace across Western Europe in recent weeks with protesters demanding an end to the Gaza bloodshed and urging that ties be cut with Israel.

Swiss police acted following a request by the Bern university’s management, which had described the student occupation as “unacceptable”.

The students were protesting against Israel’s Gaza offensive that was sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented October 7th attack that killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s subsequent bombardment and offensive in Gaza have killed at least 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The last of around 30 protesters left the Bern university early Wednesday.

They chanted pro-Palestinian slogans outside the building before leaving the area, a journalist from the Keystone-ATS agency said.

Dozens of demonstrators had been occupying university premises, including the restaurant, since Sunday night.

They were demanding an “academic boycott of Israel institutions” and had ignored a university ultimatum to leave the premises.

University rector Christian Leumann said in a statement published on Wednesday that he was open to talks but that “an occupation with politically-motivated demands does not create an environment for constructive dialogue”.

On Tuesday, police in Geneva removed around 50 pro-Palestinian protesters from a university there.