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Swiss mull minimum wage law for foreigners

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11:38 CEST+02:00

The Swiss parliament's upper house, the Council of States, wants to implement laws to ensure foreign workers receive the minimum wage and do not fall victim to “wage dumping”.

The Council of States has decided not to give up on the implementation of a law that would protect foreign workers subcontracted by Swiss companies from being paid less than the minimum wage, despite a rejection on Tuesday by the lower chamber, the National Council.

“The acceptance of the free movement of people and the bilateral approach stands or falls with the principle that in our country Swiss wages are paid,” said Social Democratic Councillor, Paul Rechsteiner.

The National Council looked at the imposition on Swiss companies of joint and several liability for breach of the laws on payment to workers of the minimum wage. The proposals were rejected as being too onerous, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

Instead a more moderate form of liability was discussed, which would only have limited application in areas such as the construction industry, where the majority of abuses take place.

The President for the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions cited an example of workers from Eastern Europe working at an incineration plant near Winterthur, who received only 8.45 francs ($8.73) per hour instead of the minimum 22.70 francs ($23.46) per hour.

In addition, the Council of States will tighten laws in order to stop companies from so-called “wage dumping”, where employees' wages are set so low as to remove any competition for a tender.

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