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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Wolf population in Alps is growing exponentially so what needs to be done to protect livestock? AFP PHOTO/DIETER NAGL (Photo by DIETER NAGL / AFP)

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Another way to cut healthcare proposed, Switzerland ranks as the "best country in the world", and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Non-emergency treatments raise the cost of healthcare

The Federal Council has recently issued its recommendations on curbing the spiralling costs of healthcare, and MPs are discussing the ways to keep expenses under control as well.

One of the many reasons for high costs is that many people use hospital emergency services for minor injuries or trivial symptoms.

According to Martin Kuhn, managing director of Regio-144 emergency transport, the number of minor cases for which the ambulance service is called is increasing sharply.

“Non-serious hospital emergencies contribute to high costs and premium growth,” said Matthias Müller, spokesperson for Santésuisse, an umbrella group for insurance companies.

Both suggest that in order to stem the sharp rise in healthcare costs, people who use emergency resources unnecessarily should pay for the service out of their own pocket, rather than have it billed to insurance companies.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Switzerland wants to cut soaring healthcare costs
 

Home working could be back this winter

Working from home became a widespread practice during the Covid pandemic but now a number of Swiss employers are considering this option again — though for a different reason.

In order to save on heating fuel, as urged by the government, some companies, including Novartis, are looking into the possibility of “leaving employees at home”, and making them work remotely.

This would save energy in the long run, as the web platforms used by companies for their work activities would use less electricity compared to the physical sites.

READ MORE: Swiss employers to reinstate working from home in winter in event of gas shortages

Switzerland ranked ‘Best Country in the World

This may come as no surprise to those familiar with various international rankings and have seen Switzerland get high scores numerous times in the past.

Now the new US News & World Report has also ranked Switzerland the ‘best in the world’ in 2022.

The reason for the top position, according to the Report, is that Switzerland has “low unemployment, a skilled labour force and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world. The country’s strong economy is powered by low corporate tax rates, a highly-developed service sector, and a high-tech manufacturing industry”.

Out of 10 criteria on which countries were rated, Switzerland got 100 points (out of 100 maximum) for its business sense, also ranking high (96.7) for quality of life.

Switzerland should better promote its languages, Council of Europe says

French and German should be  promoted more in Swiss cantons where they are non-official languages, while Italian and Romansh need to be pushed more in economic and social life, according to a report released by the Council of Europe on Wednesday.

The report also welcomes “the financial assistance provided by the federal authorities to the bilingual cantons of Bern/Berne, Fribourg/Freiburg, Graubünden/Grischun/Grigioni and Valais/Wallis for their measures in connection with multilingualism” .

READ MORE: How did Switzerland become a country with four languages?

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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