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Will Zurich introduce a minimum wage?

Following the lead of Basel City, appetite is growing in Switzerland’s most populous canton for a minimum wage. What are the chances of it being introduced?

Will Zurich introduce a minimum wage?

On Sunday, June 13th, the citizens of Basel City voted in favour of introducing a minimum wage set at 21 francs an hour.

It is the first German-speaking canton to approve this measure in the entire country. 

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons have a minimum wage?

Three Swiss-French cantons, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Geneva, and the Italian-speaking Ticino, have already done so. 

Early research indicates the move has been positive, with few job cuts alongside defined improvements in people’s ability to meet the high Swiss cost of living. 

What is happening in Zurich?

As a result, union advocates in Zurich are now pushing to introduce a minimum in the country’s most populous canton. 

A collection of trade unions, left-wing political parties and aid organisations have launched the ‘A Wage to Live’ initiative (Ein Lohn zum Leben). 

The initiative has been submitted in the city of Zurich along with the municipalities of Winterthur and Kloten. 

The goal of the campaign is to set a minimum wage of 23 francs per hour. This would be just under the minimum wage in Geneva of 23.14 francs, which is technically the highest minimum wage in the world. 

While other cantons have a minimum wage, this would effectively mean the minimum was set at a council rather than a cantonal level – which would be a national first. 

When asked why the measure wasn’t being pushed for across the entire canton, organiser Björn Resener told Switzerland’s Watson news organisation “The canton of Zurich is too bourgeois, we would risk defeat.”

“Most of the low-wage jobs are in the cities of Winterthur, Zurich and at the airport.” 

“The cost of living in Zurich has been proven to be higher.”

The efforts are already receiving some resistance however, with a spokesperson for the Zurich employers association, Hans Strittmatter, saying it may hit low skilled workers hard. 

“There is a risk that people with low qualifications will drop out of the labor market. For example, institutions that employ people with disabilities cannot afford the minimum wage,” the spokesperson said. 

Strittmatter said more time was needed to determine if the impacts of the minimum wage in other cantons were truly positive. 

How does minimum wage work in Switzerland?

When compared to its European neighbours – or countries globally – Switzerland is known for its high salaries. Therefore, it is perhaps surprising to find out that the country does not have an officially mandated minimum hourly wage. 

That does not however mean that your employer is free to pay you as much – or as little – as he or she wants. Instead, the minimum amount you can be paid will be determined through negotiations with your employer which will may feature a trade union representative. 

Whether this be an hourly amount or one which is set for full or part-time hours, setting a minimum standard in specific industries is a common way to ensure workers aren’t underpaid or unpaid. 

More information about the minimum wage in Switzerland can be found at the following link.

Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Zurich.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

If you’ve bought a new piece of furniture in Zurich or a mattress, you may be faced with the problem of what to do with the old one. 

This is particularly the case in cities like Zurich, where space is at a premium and you may not be able to kit out your spare room with the old furniture. 

While there are waste disposal centres, even getting there without a car can be a problem. 

One man’s trash…

First things first, think about whether you really need to get rid of the thing in question. 

While you may not want it, there may be someone out there willing to take it off your hands – particularly if you aren’t going to charge them. 

The first point of call is to ask your friends and colleagues if they’re interested, with social media the perfect place to ask around. 

If you live in an apartment complex, you might try placing the item in a common area with a note saying “zu verschenken” (to give away) or ‘gratis’ (free). 

After that, there are several online options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Free Your Stuff Zurich, Ricardo, Anibis, Craig’s List and Tutti. 

Some of these sites will charge a fee – even if you’re giving something away – so be sure to read the fine print first. 

Another option is to donate the goods to a charity organisation. They will usually charge you money to pick it up and prices can vary dramatically. 

Caritas charge CHF35 per 100kg plus transport costs, while Sozialwerk Pfarrer Sieber will pick up small items of furniture for a flat fee, although you’ll need to send them pictures first before they give you a quote. 

Can I put old furniture on the street in Zurich? 

Although less common than many other European cities, occasionally you will see furniture out on the street in front of homes and apartment blocks in Zurich. 

While it might clutter up the sidewalk, it is technically not illegal – provided you only do so for a maximum of 24 hours. 

You also need to make sure it doesn’t block cars, bikes or pedestrians. If it does – or if you leave it out for longer – you risk a fine.

Entsorgungstram: Zurich’s recycling and waste disposal tram

One option is the Entsorgungstram, a mobile recycling centre on rails for all Zurich residents. 

This tram weaves its way through several parts of Zurich, picking up old bulky waste including electrical devices and furniture. 

If you are lucky to live near an Entsorgungstram line, just check the timetable and bring your waste items along to meet the tram. 

There are some rules, as laid out by the Zurich council. 

“The delivered items must not be longer than 2.5 meters (exception: sofa/upholstered furniture can be no longer than 2 meters) and no heavier than 40 kilograms per item. Separate the material beforehand according to its composition: flammable, large metal and landfill”. 

Unfortunately, only pedestrians and cyclists can use this service, i.e. you cannot drive from elsewhere and deposit the stuff. 

More information including route details can be found at the following link. 

Regular waste disposal

Your next option is to see whether you can get rid of it in your usual waste disposal. 

This being Switzerland, there are a lot of rules about what the waste management company will take and will not. 

If you’re throwing away a mirror, for instance, you cannot put that with your other glass waste and will need to dispose of it elsewhere. 

On the other hand, they may take things like carpets and mattresses – although you’ll need to pay a bit extra. 

The exact rules will depend on your municipality, but generally speaking you will need to buy additional waste stickers – which cost money. 

In Zurich itself, every household receives four coupons for disposal of waste (up to 100kg) each. 

When you run out of coupons, you’ll need to pay by the kilo. 

You’ll still need to bring it to the waste disposal facility, or pay a pick up fee of around CHF80. 

This may sound steep, but they do come to your home and pick it up – which will likely be cheaper than a rental car or van. 

In Winterthur, you will need to buy stickers for CHF1.80 from the council, with each sticker letting you dispose of 10kg of waste. 

Check with the retailer where you bought the new item

One option offered by furniture sellers is to buy your old furniture or whitegoods or accept them as a trade in. 

While this is likely to be more common with second hand retailers who might see potential in your unwanted item, it is also a service offered by retailers who only sell new goods. 

One example is Ikea, who will take your old mattress, furniture or electronic device and recycle it. 

This service is available at Ikea outlets for a cost of CHF10 each. 

It is also available when you get something new delivered, although you must pre-book so the driver can be sure to set aside enough space. 

This will cost you CHF80 for furniture, or CHF50 for electronic devices and mattresses. Keep in mind that (at least with Ikea) this service is only available when you buy something new. 

Several other furniture companies offer a similar service, including Schubiger Möbel, Möbel Pfister and Conforama.  

Electrical item retails will often take your old electrical goods for recycling, whether these are small like iPhones or large like fridges and washing machines. 

More information about which goods can be recycled and how in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

Moving companies

Removalist companies are another option – whether you are moving house or not. 

If you are moving house then a disposal service may be included in the overall fees. 

If not, you can still contact the company and get the item taken off your hands. 

While different companies will charge different amounts, you’ll usually pay per 100kg rather than per item, which can be a better (or worse) option than contacting the local council. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis has detailed info about how to find a moving company here

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