Labour market and Italian border workers in the Canton of Ticino after the 2nd world war

Labour market in the Canton of Ticino was very peculiar for all the XIXth century and the first half of XXth century: there was a great Italian immigration, permanent too, while many workers of Ticino emigrated abroad or to the Swiss plateau. After the second world war, and especially in the Sixties, the workers of Ticino stopped their emigration and preferred to find a job in the tertiary sector and the services. Italian workers occupied the most of the workplaces in the factories, that were greatly developing in the Canton. A remarkable part of these emigrants was composed of border workers, arriving from the Italian border areas but also from southern Italy, with an intermediate step in the provinces of Como and Varese. Border workers were the weakest kind of labour, with lower trade union protection: they could be dismissed at any time, occupied the workplaces at the lowest wage (as regards the Swiss levels) and for a long period of time they had to pay high taxes for services which they could not take advantage for, unlike the Italian workers resident in Switzerland. Nevertheless they gave an extraordinary contribution to the economic development of a Canton deeply deficient in labour for industry. The paper aims to analyse too the social problems of this kind of emigration, e.g. the relations between border workers and Swiss workers.

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