Swiss voters reject “world’s highest” minimum wage
Swiss voters rejected an initiative to introduce a nationwide minimum wage in a referendum on Sunday.
The initiative was launched by the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, the largest national trade union in the country and has gathered since 2012 over 110,000 valid signatures from Swiss citizens.
Under the trade union’s proposal, employees on a minimum wage in Switzerland would earn hourly at least 22 Swiss francs (18 euros), equal to 4,000 Swiss francs a month (3,273 euros) for a full-time job of 42-hour a week, which would have been the world’s highest minimum wage level.
The results of Sunday’s votes indicated that all of the Swiss cantons rejected the proposal. Meanwhile, the majority of Swiss citizens also said no to the initiative, with 76.3% against the proposal and 23.7% in favour. Voter turnout was 56.3%.
Ahead of the referendum, the SFTU was quoted by the Chinese news agency Xinhua as saying that the minimum wage lead primarily to the fact that the 330,000 workers in Switzerland who can barely live on their wages at present could finally earn a fair wage.
The Swiss federal council and the majority of parliament took the opposite view, saying that it would have a damaging effect on Switzerland’s job market and drive up unemployment.
Daniel Lampart, chief economist of the SFTU, expressed disappointment at Sunday’s result, but said it was worth launching the initiative. He noted that the debate on salaries did play a role in promoting salaries in many sectors.
Swiss Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann welcomed the result, saying that acceptance of the salary standard would lead to job cuts, particularly in remote and structurally weaker regions.
Schneider-Ammann stressed that work, rather than a fixed salary, was the best way to fight poverty.
At present the collective bargaining agreement with employers was a traditional way for employees in Switzerland to guarantee a fair wage.
The vote on minimum wage was the third time in less than two years for the salary proposals to appear on a nationwide ballot for Swiss people to decide how much a paycheck should be. Last year, Swiss voters approved to curb the high salaries of managers and boost shareholder rights but rejected a move to limit executive salaries at 12 times that of the lowest paid staff.
Swiss voters also cast ballots in Sunday’s referendum over three other initiatives, namely the purchase of 22 new Gripen fighter jets for the Swiss Air Force, a lifelong ban on convicted paedophiles to work with children and a constitutional amendment to boost the status of family doctors.
The proposal on the Gripen dismissed and the other overwhelmingly approved.
It was reported that objection to the acquisition of fighter jets was the first major defeat for the Swiss government in a ballot on military matters for 20 years.
Ueli Maurer, Swiss Federal Councilor and also head of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sports, said after the referendum that the voters’ decision would cause “a security gap”.
“We will do everything we can to fill this gap in these difficult circumstances as quickly as possible. Different options on how best to ensure the Armed Force’s operational readiness must be considered in the next few months,” Maurer said. fighter was two were