Swiss reject world's highest minimum wage
AFP · 18 May 2014, 17:10
Published: 18 May 2014 17:10 GMT+02:00
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A proposal to introduce a minimum wage so high it could pass for mid-management pay elsewhere, was rejected by 76,3 percent of Swiss voters.
The massive rejection of the "Decent Salary" initiative was widely seen as a slap in the face to its union backers, who insist at least 22 francs ($25) an hour, or 4,000 francs ($4,515, 3,280 euros) a month, is needed to get by in Switzerland.
If it had passed, Switzerland would have gone from having no national minimum wage to boasting the world's highest, far above the $7.25 in the United States and 9.43 euros in France.
But the initiative flopped as voters heeded warnings from government and other opponents that it would deal a death blow to many businesses and would weaken Switzerland's healthy economy.
Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann hailed the result, saying the country had dodged a bullet.
Introducing the minimum wage, he told reporters, would have led to "layoffs" and made it "more difficult for people with few qualifications to find a job."
Farmers, small business owners and employer organizations also welcomed the results.
While disappointed, Alessandro Pelizzari of the Unia union's Geneva chapter insisted the campaign itself had had a very positive effect.
"We have never before seen in Switzerland so many companies raising employee salaries to 4,000 Swiss francs as over the past months," he told AFP, listing the Aldi and Lidle supermarket chains, as well as fashion giants H&M and Bata.
Supporters of the minimum wage said it would have boosted the purchasing power of some 330,000 people.