Ticino launches referendum to increase minimum wage

The southern Swiss canton of Ticino will hold a vote to increase the minimum wage.

The picturesque southern Swiss canton of Ticino. Photo by Robin Ulrich on Unsplash
The southern Swiss canton of Ticino will hold a vote to increase the minimum wage. Photo by Robin Ulrich on Unsplash

The vote will go ahead after 12,000 signatures were collected. The application was lodged on Monday, well over the required 10,000 signatures to hold a canton-wide binding referendum. 

Ticino is one of only a handful of Swiss cantons to have a minimum wage, although advocates of the vote argue it is too low and have called for a “living wage”. 

The current minimum wage is approximately CHF19. Advocates, who have called the campaign “Per un salario minimo sociale” (for a social minimum wage) are pushing for an increase to CHF21.50, with progressive increases thereafter. 

A date for the vote has not yet been set. 

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. 

Five Swiss cantons have a minimum wage in place: Basel City, three Swiss-French cantons, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Geneva, and Ticino. 

The minimum hourly salary ranges from 19 francs in Ticino to 23.14 in Geneva.

The rate in Geneva is technically the highest minimum wage in the world. 

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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Swiss stabbing suspect ‘linked to jihadism inquiry’

A woman arrested for a knife attack in a Swiss department store was linked to a 2017 jihadism investigation, police said on Wednesday.

Swiss stabbing suspect 'linked to jihadism inquiry'
Ticino police is investigating the Lugano attack. Photo by AFP

The 28-year-old was held on Tuesday after allegedly trying to strangle one woman with her bare hands, and stabbing another woman in the neck.

The second victim in the attack, in Lugano in the south of Switzerland, was said to be seriously wounded.

“The perpetrator is known to @FedpolCH,” the federal police said on Twitter. “She appeared in a police investigation in 2017 in connection with jihadism.”

The regional police had already mentioned a possible terror motive behind the attack.

“The situation is extremely serious,” said Norman Gobbi, head of the Ticino regional government.

The woman was overpowered by customers in the shop before officers arrived.

The Swiss federal police said criminal proceedings were under way.

“This attack does not surprise me”, federal police chief Nicoletta della Valle said Tuesday, underlining that such attacks occurred all over the world.

Switzerland has not suffered a major jihadist attack, but police and officials highlighted several recent incidents being investigated for possible terrorist motives.

And two Swiss nationals aged 18 and 24 were arrested near Zurich due to their alleged links to the perpetrator of a deadly attack in neighbouring Austria's capital Vienna earlier this month.

After Tuesday's incident, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted that he condemned the “Islamist terrorist attack” in Lugano.

“We stand with Switzerland in these difficult hours,” he wrote.

“We'll give a joint response to Islamist terrorism in Europe and defend our values.”

An Islamic State sympathiser who had tried to join the jihadist group in Syria was behind the attack in Vienna, in which four people were killed and several others injured.