• Switzerland's news in English
 

Swiss massively reject bid to restrict top pay

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
 HSBC boss backs Swiss account as profits slip
HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver. Photo: AFP

HSBC boss backs Swiss account as profits slip

HSBC's boss on Monday fended off criticism about receiving his bonuses through a Swiss bank account held by a Panamanian-registered company, as the banking giant reported a 15-percent drop in annual net profits. READ  

Fire destroys Valais discotheque and bar
Photo: Valais cantonal police

Fire destroys Valais discotheque and bar

An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire on Sunday night that destroyed a discotheque, bar and woodworking shop in Collombey-Muraz, a municipality of around 8,000 people in the canton of Valais. READ  

Federer caught up in bitter cricket rivalry
Federer holding up India cricket shirt. Photo: Roger Federer/Facebook

Federer caught up in bitter cricket rivalry

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has apologized for getting caught up in the bitter rivalry between Indian and Pakistani cricket fans after he was pictured admiring the blue shirt of World Cup champions India in a marketing photo-shoot. READ  

HSBC CEO 'kept millions in Swiss account'
Photo: AFP

HSBC CEO 'kept millions in Swiss account'

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who vowed to reform the scandal-hit bank, kept millions of dollars in a Swiss account, the Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday. READ  

Same-sex marriage 'backed by most Swiss'
Photo: AFP

Same-sex marriage 'backed by most Swiss'

A majority of Swiss back gay and lesbian marriage, according to the results of surveys published on Sunday by two weeklies. READ  

Breakdowns cancel flights at Geneva airport
Photo: Geneva airport

Breakdowns cancel flights at Geneva airport

The Geneva airport struggled to return to normal operations on Sunday, a day after equipment failures, two fires and snow forced the cancellation of 35 flights and the rerouting of 22 others. READ  

Avalanche kills four skiers in Valais Alps
The avalanche buried five people. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Avalanche kills four skiers in Valais Alps

The death toll from an avalanche that swept away a group of Italian skiers in the Swiss Alps has risen to four after a man died from his injuries, police said on Sunday. READ  

Burkhalter: anti-terror measures a 'priority'
Burkhalter and John Kerry at a meeting last year. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Burkhalter: anti-terror measures a 'priority'

Combating violent extremism is a “priority” in Switzerland, Swiss foreign minister and former president Didier Burkhalter has said, telling a counter-terrorism summit in Washington this week that Switzerland has measures in place to prevent the radicalization of youth and the financing of terrorism. READ  

Lausanne man gets 14 years for strangling wife
The trial took place in Yverdon. Photo: Sjaak Kempe

Lausanne man gets 14 years for strangling wife

A Swiss court on Friday sentenced a civil servant from Assens near Lausanne in the canton of Vaud to 14 years in prison for strangling his wife to death at their home and burying her body in a nearby forest. READ  

Updated: several injured in train collision
The accident happened at 6.45am on Friday. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Updated: several injured in train collision

Two trains slammed into each other in the Swiss town of Rafz north of Zurich early on Friday, leaving passengers injured and train carriages upturned, police and media said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
New study finds Switzerland is world's best place to retire
National
Army official calls for Swiss women to undergo military training
National
New Swiss health campaign combats smoking as 'norm' for too many
National
Swiss federal government unveils EU immigration quotas bill
Sponsored Article
Avoid the costs of wild Swiss currency swings
Business & Money
HSBC Swiss private bank revelations 'tip of iceberg': whistleblower
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
Phil Collins' paralyzed ex-wife files lawsuit after Swiss complications
Culture
Gauguin on display in Basel touted as 'most costly painting ever'
Business & Money
Swiss Leaks: HSBC Swiss private bank 'catered to terrorists and crooks'
International
What's keeping British expats in Europe from voting in UK elections?
Business & Money
Trade balance bulges as Switzerland smashes record for exports in 2015
National
Swiss town's ploy against workers living in Italy 'not racist'
National
Architects propose skyscrapers for new Geneva 'urban centre'
Culture
Renowned Israeli conductor dies during symphony in Lucerne
International
Population of Swiss citizens abroad continues to expand
National
Vaud property salesman jailed over costly gambling addiction
National
Right-wing group seeks citizens' vote for national face veil ban
Health
Swiss doctors 'worst' for leaving foreign objects in patients
Features
Anglophone expats in Switzerland mine creativity to earn crust
National
Number of 'immigrants' swells to third of Swiss population: report
International
Pricey Switzerland tops latest global cost of living study
National
Swiss travel agents and retailers cut prices after franc surge
Technology
Solar Impulse team unveils round-the-world route for its plane
Business & Money
Swiss central bank's shock move to let franc rise sparks debate
National
Markets panic as Swiss National Bank scraps euro rate cap
National
VIDEO: Swiss soldiers publish pictures of antics on internet
National
A portrait of modern Switzerland in ten stats
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Features
Geneva-based expat pens seismic novel about Haitian homeland
Features
Tons of explosives finally removed from hundreds of Swiss sites
International
'Don't succumb to fear': Swiss President Sommaruga on terrorism
Sport
Federer claims historic 1,000th win at Brisbane tennis tournament
National
Swiss newspapers condemn deadly Charlie Hebdo terror attack
Business & Money
Hackers steal client information from Geneva cantonal bank
National
Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris sparks Swiss rallies
National
Pop star Madonna leaves her mark during Swiss mountain holiday
National
Disassembled Solar Impulse heads to Emirates in jumbo jet
National
US ambassador in Bern sparks flap over Swiss ski lift line 'chaos'
National
New President Sommaruga lauds 'bold' Swiss democracy
National
Hopes fade of finding missing Scottish researcher still alive
National
Scientists in Lausanne and Belgium step up search for alien life
National
Nude 'selfie' mayor heads Switzerland's top ten scandal list
Features
The Local's top ten snow sport alternatives to skiing in Switzerland
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

1,483
jobs available