Swiss vot­ers re­ject “world’s high­est” min­i­mum wage

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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