Swissmem provides tailored services to promote the ability of its approximately 1,200 member companies to compete at the national and international levels. These services include professional advice on employment, commercial, contract and environmental law, energy efficiency, and knowledge and technology transfer. In addition, Swissmem offers market-oriented training for employees working in the sector. Swissmem operates a number of strong networks. Twenty-three industry sectors, various experience-sharing groups and forums give member companies an opportunity to discuss technical questions or work on joint projects. The cost-efficient compensation fund completes Swissmem’s comprehensive offering.
Swissmem is committed to the concepts of competition and entrepreneurial freedom, rooted in a strong sense of social responsibility. Drawing on its broad-based knowledge of the sector, Swissmem advocates the best possible economic and political framework and a liberal labour market in its dealings with politicians, government and the public. It also supports a constructive social partnership. In its capacity as employer representative, the association negotiates the terms of the collective employment agreement for the MEM industries with the social partners.
Swissmem was created by the merger of the two associations ASM (Association of Swiss Engineering Employers) and VSM (Swiss Association of Machinery Manufacturers) and can look back on a history stretching over 130 years. Martin Hirzel is the President of Swissmem.
Stefan Brupbacher studied law at the University of Zurich, where he also completed a doctorate. In addition, he holds an Executive Master’s degree in international and European business law from the University of St. Gallen and a Master's degree in international relations, specializing in international business, from John Hopkins University (SAIS) in Bologna and Washington DC.
From mid-2014 he was General Secretary of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). Prior to this, Mr Brupbacher was General Secretary of the FDP Switzerland party from 2008. He also gained extensive professional experience in his previous positions, including heading up the secretariat of the Economic Affairs and Taxation Committees of the National Council and Council of States (EATC) and as deputy head of International Labour Affairs at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Dr Stefan Brupbacher took over as Director of Swissmem at the beginning of January 2019. Since November 2020 he has been Vice-Chairman of Orgalim, the umbrella organization Europe’s technology industries.
The history of Swissmem began in 1883 with the founding of the Swiss Association of Machinery Manufacturers (VSM). In 1905 another organization arose from within the VSM, the Association of Swiss Engineering Employers (ASM). Both associations have been operating under the Swissmem brand since 1999.
“To safeguard and promote the general interests of the Swiss engineering industry”. This was the stated objective when the Swiss Association of Machinery Manufacturers (VSM) was founded in 1883. It remains relevant to this day.
The beginning of the 20th century was a time of rising social tensions in Switzerland. Consequently, the engineering industry employers established the Association of Swiss Engineering Employers (ASM) from the ranks of the VSM in 1905. The ASM’s purpose was to safeguard its members’ interests in the area of social policy.
As a consequence of the Great Depression, in the 1930s the Swiss Federal Council became keen to act as an arbitrator in collective, nationwide wage disputes. The ASM and trade unions were opposed to this state interventionism. They sought a solution which would enable them to meet calls for social peace while maintaining autonomy in collective pay bargaining. This gave rise to the “Agreement in the Engineering Industry” (VMI). This brought a mechanism for settling differences of opinion between the social partners and therefore industrial peace. After that, the VMI – or collective employment agreement (CEA) in the MEM industries – was renewed time and again, and its content expanded.
Since the beginning of July 1999, the ASM/VSM associations have been amalgamated under one management, while nonetheless maintaining their legal independence. They have been operating under the Swissmem brand since 1 October 1999. In September 2006, the ASM and VSM members voted in favour of continuing integration. From 1 January 2007, the VSM changed its name to Swissmem and took over the activities previously undertaken by the ASM. However, the ASM remains in place as the body responsible for the CEA of the MEM industries.