Grapevine: Schumacher Home in Pay Row

As one of the fastest men on the planet, seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher was probably hoping to find a little peace and quiet when he started building a mansion in western Switzerland

Grapevine: Schumacher Home in Pay Row

Instead, the 36-year-old German has been caught up in a row over union laws, international labour treaties and the minimum wage after it emerged that French and German labourers working on his 35 million Swiss franc ($28 million) villa had been paid substantially less than the Swiss minimum.

The use of cheap foreign labour on a building site would normally be of little public interest.

Unfortunately for Schumacher, the "Schumiland" story emerged just as the Swiss began to contemplate a national vote on Sept. 25 on whether to make it easier for immigrant workers, mainly from eastern Europe, to get jobs in wealthy Switzerland.

The Swiss parliament has already approved the expansion of Switzerland's labour agreement with the EU to cover the Union's 10 new member states, but opponents were able to gather enough support to force the popular vote.

A Sunday opinion poll by Le Matin newspaper showed a margin of just three percent between the "yes" and "no" camps, so the Schumacher affair may have emerged at just the right moment for those opposing the expansion.

The construction company involved in building the villa has already said that it unwittingly underpaid six French stonemasons and has since increased their wages.

Schumacher's Geneva-based lawyers were not immediately available for comment, but insisted in local reports on Tuesday that the Ferrari driver was completely unaware of the situation.

That has not spared him from some unsavoury headlines.

"Slaving for a pittance," read the front page of Switzerland's best-selling Blick newspaper on Monday, while Tuesday's Le Matin described the news as a "scandal."

The biggest Swiss trade union group, Unia, is urging members to vote in favour of expansion - although it was Unia officials who drew attention to the situation at Schumacher's villa.

"We believe that cases like Schumacher's actually prove that the controls to prevent wage dumping are working," Unia spokesman Hans Hartmann told Reuters. "Of course it's true that some people might just see the Schumacher headlines and think that's a reason to vote against further expansion, but that would be the wrong reaction.

"We believe in a 'yes' vote mainly because we believe in people's basic right to work wherever they choose, but also because we have already used the surrounding debate to get much better conditions for all workers here - no matter what their nationality."

shares
comments
Italy Preview Quotes: Jordan
Previous article

Italy Preview Quotes: Jordan

Next article

Ecclestone: SLEC Not for Sale

Ecclestone: SLEC Not for Sale
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022
What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi Plus

What hurt Perez most in his ill-fated fight for second in Abu Dhabi

Arguably the favourite in the battle to finish second best in 2022's Formula 1 standings, Sergio Perez's two-stop strategy at Abu Dhabi couldn't take him ahead of Charles Leclerc when the music stopped - and several key factors ultimately precluded him from the much-coveted runner-up spot

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2022
The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success Plus

The Abu Dhabi momentum that can propel Leclerc and Ferrari to F1 2023 success

OPINION: Charles Leclerc achieved his target of sealing runner-up in the 2022 world championship with a masterful drive behind Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi. And that race contained key elements that may help him, and Ferrari, go one better in Formula 1 2023

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats Plus

How Verstappen's record-breaking 2022 season compares to the F1 greats

The 2022 Formula 1 season will be remembered as a record book rewriting Max Verstappen masterclass, a completely different challenge to his maiden world championship last year, and a clear sign he is still raising his own level. But where does it stack up against the all-time great F1 campaigns?

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2022
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2022 Formula 1 season came to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit, where the battle for second in the standings was decided, the wins in a season record extended and a retiring four-time world champion bowed out on a high. Here's how we rated the drivers

Formula 1
Nov 21, 2022