Why salaries in Switzerland need to rise (according to unions)

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Why salaries in Switzerland need to rise (according to unions)

The Swiss Trade Union (USS) is demanding higher wages for Switzerland’s workers to offset the high cost of living and decreasing purchasing power. Do they have a point?


The union’s president, Pierre-Yves Maillard, proposed several measures to bring financial relief to the lower and middle class.

“More and more people in Switzerland struggle to pay their bills, including health insurance premiums”, he told reporters in Bern on Thursday.

In addition to “substantial” wage increases, Maillard demanded a 13th salary for all employees — currently only some employers offer this bonus— as well as more collective labor agreements setting minimum wages.

He also said more effort is needed to combat women's wage discrimination and offer them more employment opportunities by developing state-funded childcare facilities.

An overhaul of the pension and social security system is also needed, Maillard said, to ensure that the necessary funding is available for the next 25 years.

He also suggested that the practice of capping health insurance premiums at 10%, already practiced in the canton of Vaud, should be used all over Switzerland.

But the rising cost of living and weaker purchasing power are not the only problems the country’s employees are facing.

Another Swiss trade union, Travail.Suisse, said this week that working conditions in Swiss workplaces have gradually deteriorated in recent years, resulting in a drop in employee satisfaction.

According to a new study the union conducted with the Bern University of Applied Sciences, one in eight Swiss employees (12.4 percent) think their wages are too low, compared with 9.4 percent three years ago.

Other areas that have to be improved are health protection and job security, the researchers said.

The study also found that 42.3 percent of employees feel stressed — that is 2.3 percent more than last year. And emotional exhaustion affects 13.2 percent of workers.

"The pressure on workers is growing and the psycho-social burdens are also increasing," said Gabriel Fischer, head of economic policy at Travail.Suisse.

One of the factors contributing to the general dissatisfaction is work flexibility. Although originally intended to provide workers with more free time and better work-life balance, the study reported that this system "causes workers to lose control of their working time. This makes planning more difficult and prevents reconciliation between private and professional life”.

At the same time, technological advances are an important source of fear for the work security. The study found that 17.4 percent of employees – 3.1 percent more than in previous years —are worried that digitalisation of work functions will lead to job losses.







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