[QODLink]
Europe

Swiss reject world's highest minimum wage

Citizens of the most expensive country in the world vote against a proposal to set the minimum wage at $4,500 per month.

Last updated: 18 May 2014 21:30
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Swiss citizens have voted against a proposal to introduce the world's highest minimum wage, according to first projections.

About 77 percent of the voters rejected the proposal on Sunday that, if passed, would have seen the minimum wage set at $25 an hour.

"It is a clear vote by the people, a vote of trust in the economy," Hans-Ulrich Bigler, director of the Swiss trades association, told Swiss television.

Sunday's referendum was the latest in a string of initiatives to try to address the country's widening income gap.

Anger has grown over the wages of Swiss executives, which have ballooned while those of low-income workers have lagged.

Supporters of the proposed minimum wage, which corresponds to a monthly salary of just under $4,500, said it would help smooth out salary inequalities and ensure that a person working full-time could live decently.

But critics said the measure would hurt competitiveness and lead to job cuts, harming the low-income workers that it was designed to help.

'Pay the price'

Florian Weber, a Swiss restaurant owner, told Al Jazeera that customers would also have to pay the price for a set minimum wage.

"The question that we ask ourselves is, if the customer would be ready to pay the price because when we have to pay 4,000 Swiss Francs [just under $4,500], we have to raise the prices for a simple coffee to maybe six Swiss Francs [just under $7]," Weber said.

Switzerland does not currently have a nation-wide minimum wage. Pay is determined by individual employment contracts or via collective bargaining agreements, some of which also set industry-specific minimum wages.

Swiss voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum last year to give shareholders a binding say over executive pay, but turned down a proposal to cap the salaries of top executives at 12 times that of a company's lowest wage.

The high cost of food, rent and insurance makes Switzerland one of the most expensive countries in the world to live in.

322

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
An estimated 36 people die each day in embattled town where pro-Russia rebel separatists fight Ukrainian soldiers.
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
join our mailing list