• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss massively reject bid to restrict top pay

AFP · 24 Nov 2013, 17:29

Published: 24 Nov 2013 17:29 GMT+01:00

Two thirds voted against the measure — which had been expected to fail in spite of widespread discontent at excessive pay for top bosses.
   
Dubbed the "
1:12" initiative after the legally-binding ratio it would have set between the top and bottom salaries in a firm, the plan met with stiff opposition from Switzerland's business community and political right.
   
Ahead of the vote, its critics issued stark warnings that inscribing salary 
restrictions into the law would make the wealthy Alpine nation less competitive and break with a Swiss tradition of limited official meddling in business.
   
In March the Swiss massively backed rules to rein in golden handshakes, 
amid a public outcry over high-profile severance payments.
   
Christoph Darbellay, head of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, 
told AFP he could understand disquiet over "undeserved salaries".
   
But voting Yes this time would be tantamount to "shooting ourselves in the 
foot", he insisted.
   
Switzerland's cross-party government had urged a No vote, saying a 
1:12 law would dent tax revenues and scare off foreign firms.
   
Their message got across: all of Switzerland's 26 cantons and a full 65.3 
percent of all voters rejected the initiative, according to final results released by public broadcaster RTS.

Economic Affairs Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann hailed the result, saying it would allow the Swiss economy to remain competitive.
   
But he urged big bosses to take note of the public outrage over some of their salaries, pointing out to reporters that "I do not appreciate the excessive salaries received by a handful of managers."

Switzerland has long boasted a business-friendly climate coupled with some of the highest average salaries in the world, and has largely avoided the economic crisis dogging the European Union, of which it is not a member.
   
The referendum campaign was spearheaded by the Socialist Party's youth 
wing, plus the Greens and trade unions.
   
They argued that it was time to clip the wings of the vastly overpaid, 
underlining that an informal ratio of around 1:12 was the norm as late as 1998, before things went awry.
   
The debate led to intense scrutiny of bosses' pay packets, which the 
1:12 proponents said were an average 43 times higher in 2011 than those on the bottom of the ladder.
   
According to 2012 figures published by the campaigners, the then boss of 
pharmaceutical giant Novartis made 219 times the firm's lowest salary.
   
At banking group UBS, the lowest-paid employee would have had to work 194 
years to make the same amount the head of its investment bank raked in 12 months.
   
The chief executive of rival bank Credit Suisse enjoyed a ratio of 1:191.

   
To hammer their message home, the campaigners plastered Switzerland with 
posters showing a single hamburger next to a towering stack of a dozen, reading: "12 times more salary, that's enough".
   
On Sunday, Swiss Socialist Youth chief David Roth acknowledged that "we did not manage to persuade people that the rip-off going on in companies' executive circles must end."
   
Under the direct democracy which is the core of the Swiss political system, 
the campaigners were able to put the issue to a plebiscite by collecting more than 100,000 signatures.
   
Switzerland hosts a range of popular votes on national issues each year, 
grouped together on four different Sundays.
   
Two other federal initiatives were struck down in Sunday's vote, which saw 
a participation rate of 53.6 percent -- considered very high in Swiss referenda that usually fail to draw even half of eligible voters.
   
One had aimed to raise the annual fee for using the Swiss motorway system 
from 40 to 100 francs ($44-$110), with the additional cash supposed to pay for new roads across the country.
   
The other one, proposed by the populist right Swiss People's Party, would 
have handed tax breaks to families where one parent stayed home to care for their children instead of sending them to daycare.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Pop goes the weasel as Hadron Collider shuts down
It will take a few days to repair the damage caused by the weasel, which did not survive its high-voltage encounter. Photo: AFP

The world's most powerful particle smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, went offline after a weasel caused a short circuit on a high-voltage transformer.

Anger as Basel pool bans 'maxi burqinis'
Australian model Mecca Laalaa in a tight-fitting Islamic swimsuit, or burqini. File photo: AFP

What lies behind controversial rule changes at a pool in the Swiss city of Basel?

Swiss region to shield tourists from 'killer cows'
File photo: Caroline Bishop

The tourist area of Laax in south-eastern Switzerland will install fences to ensure no one is attacked by protective mother cows this summer.

Football corruption: Platini faces make-or-break hearing

UPDATED: Uefa's fallen chief Michel Platini says he is optimistic a Swiss court will clear his name.

Arrested: teen who rolled joint outside police station
The two boys claimed “not to have realised they were in a police zone. File photo: AFP

Two teens in the Swiss town of Winterthur have been arrested after they were spotted rolling a joint on the grounds of a police station.

Confirmed: Federer to play at Madrid Open
Roger Federer at a ceremony marking the inauguration of a street bearing his name in Biel, Switzerland on April 21st. Photo: AFP

Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will continue his preparation for the French Open next month by taking part in the Madrid Masters next week, tournament officials confirmed on Thursday.

Cologne sex attacks: suspect arrested in Switzerland
The Cologne attacks on New Year's Eve shockd Germany. Photo: AFP

A key suspect in the New Year's Eve mass sexual assaults in Cologne was spotted shoplifting in southern Germany and arrested across the border in Switzerland, authorities said on Thursday.

Swiss man loses licence after bird 'attacks' car
This was not the bird in the incident. Photo: Ian Bruce

This man was hoping for mercy from the courts. He didn't get it.

Swiss climber killed in Himalayas tragedy
Climbers often tackle Shisha Pangma as part of training for tougher climbs. File photo: Dirk Groeger

A Swiss and an Austrian have plunged to their deaths in China's Himalayas a tour operator says.

Is this why you should move to Switzerland?
File photo: AFP

Switzerland offers the highest standard of living in Europe, a new study shows. Here's why.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Society
Swiss parliament snubs plan for two weeks paternity leave
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
File photo: Giovanni Blank
Lifestyle
Fathers should share parental leave, says commission
Photo: eGuide Travel
Society
Dictator-tracker spices up Geneva planespotting
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Politics
Swiss army ready to act in worst case migrant scenario
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Photo: Robert Zingg/Zurich Zoo
Lifestyle
Druk the elephant hauled to her feet by Zurich fire brigade
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Sport
Swiss champion snowboarder Estelle Balet killed by avalanche
Photo: Andreas Omvik/Zurich Tourism
Culture
Swiss 'groundhog day' forecasts lousy summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose International Health Insurance
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Technology
'Love-making couch' among inventions at Geneva show
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Bank blacklists Swiss travel agent named Isis
Photo: Julien Gregario
National
Italian research student slain in Geneva street
Photo: Philippe Merle/AFP
Features
New Chaplin museum set in star's own 'Downton Abbey'
Photo: Gary Minnaert
Lifestyle
Name traditions still sway married Swiss women despite law change
Photo: Stephan Ridgway
Government eyes hefty fines for littering
Photo: Swiss Tourism
National
Revealed: the richest regions in Switzerland
Photo: Swiss National Bank
National
Switzerland's new 50 franc note: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
VIDEO: Swiss farmer's cows leap for joy of spring
Politics
Automatic expulsion of criminal foreigners rejected at the ballot box
National
UK's Duchess of York seeks to become resident of Verbier
National
City of Geneva to translate information into English
National
Female guard at prison near Zurich 'helped Syrian flee jail'
National
Swiss residential real estate 'bubble risk' continues to rise
Culture
Temporary wood opera house opens near United Nations in Geneva
4,497
jobs available