Swiss canton adopts a minimum wage

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Swiss canton adopts a minimum wage
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The new law comes four years after voters in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino approved the introduction of a minimum wage in a referendum.


The legislation, which will go into effect from July 2020, requires the cantonal government to set a minimum wage that is proportional to the median salary for a specific job in a particular industry, if this is not already determined by a collective labour agreement.

With the exception of some jobs where individual contracts between a company and an employee are made, usually collective agreements are negotiated by trade union representatives and apply to an entire industry or an entire canton. 

In 2017, the Ticino economics minister Christian Vitta set the minimum monthly salary at between 3,372 and 3,462 francs, depending on the sector. This corresponds to an hourly wage of nearly 20 francs.

However, the leftist parties and the unions consider the minimum wage proposed by the government insufficient, arguing that it may not allow some people to live without social assistance.

They are also concerned that the threshold is set too low to combat widespread wage dumping. The Greens demand an amount of at least 21.50 francs per hour, while the Social Democrats want a minimum wage between 20 and 20.50 francs.

But the right-wing Swiss People’s Party argues that the introduction of a minimum wage does not make sense when a large number of employers hire cross-border workers from Italy. According to official figures, 67,800 Italians commute to their jobs in Ticino each day. 

Ticino is generally considered a low-income region. Nearly a quarter of the jobs in the canton are poorly paid, while the Swiss average is 10 percent.

In addition to Ticino, only two cantons have introduced a minimum wage: Neuchâtel and Jura set it at 20 francs an hour.

Geneva’s electorate will vote on the minimum wage of 23 francs an hour, but no date for the referendum has been set yet.

At the federal level, an initiative of the Swiss Trade Union to implement a minimum wage nationwide was rejected by the voters in 2014.

The initiative was not accepted mainly because voters were concerned that having a mandatory minimum wage would increase costs for employers and may drive some companies out of business. Other opponents argued that a minimum wage was not needed as most Swiss workers’ salaries were already higher than the proposed minimum wage.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about minimum wages in Switzerland




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