800 ABB employees in Shanghai currently live and work around the clock on the premises of the Swiss industrial company. The approach is called “closed loop”. Only those who stick to it are allowed to work again despite the lockdown.
The pharmaceutical multinational Roche and the Swiss measurement technology specialist Mettler Toledo were among the first companies ever to be allowed to reopen their doors in Shanghai – under the strictest conditions. The companies are buttoned up when asked by Blick. Where exactly do the employees sleep? What are the sanitary facilities like? Mettler Toledo has left Blick’s repeated inquiries completely unanswered. At Roche, it only says that the safety of employees has “top priority”.
ABB employees receive a bonus
At least ABB is a little more willing to provide information: It says there that the 800 employees in the closed loop have “meals, accommodation and entertainment options”. They each stay on the company premises for two to three weeks, after which they go home for a break. The work in the closed loop is voluntary, ABB emphasizes – and is remunerated with additional remuneration.
The Shanghai lockdown is less critical for companies in the service sector – such as the financial sector. Your employees can work from home. Nevertheless: The zero-Covid strategy is also shaking up the business of these companies.
Financial industry loses expats
And that goes far beyond Shanghai: In the financial metropolis of Hong Kong, for example, a survey by the European Chamber of Commerce has shown that every fourth company wants to move away because of the Covid restrictions. “Companies have trouble recruiting international staff,” says Gabriel Mallet, head of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Quarantine and Covid restrictions deter applicants.
From the Swiss banking sector, Credit Suisse, UBS and several private banks, including Pictet, are well represented in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Co. According to reports, more and more employees are asking to be transferred.
The Swiss banks asked by Blick do not want to confirm this trend. UBS doesn’t want to make any statement at all. At Credit Suisse, it only says that the Asia-Pacific region has a “strong workforce with stable employee numbers”.
One thing is clear: Expats are less important to Swiss banks in the Chinese financial centers today anyway. Simon Roth, spokesman for the private bank Pictet, confirms this: “Ten years ago people from Switzerland were still being sent there. Today you can also find specialists locally.”