Switzerland voted Sunday to reject a measure called the Decent Salary Initiative, that would establish a minimum wage of $4,515 per month in that country, with 76.3% of voters opposed to the idea.
The proposed monthly minimum wage equates to roughly $25 per hour, which would be the highest in the world. Proponents called the wage hike necessary, while opponents felt that it would seriously damage the Swiss economy.
Hans-Ulrich Bigler, director of the Swiss trades association, commented that “It is a clear vote by the people, a vote of trust in the economy." The Decent Salary Initiative would benefit roughly 300,000 Swiss workers, with the vast majority being immigrants working in agriculture, housekeeping and catering jobs.
Swiss voters turn out:
At present, 90% of Swiss workers already earn more than the proposed $25 per hour, with the average wage being roughly $37 an hour, though union leaders in the country of 8 million will continue to push for higher wage rates for unskilled laborers, which are still some of the highest paid in the world. Though the average household income in Switzerland is about $6,800 per month (as compared to $4,300 in the United States), that country likewise features some of the highest prices for goods and services worldwide.
The Swiss Business Federation president Heinz Karrer commented that the landslide result in the poll revealed that "the initiative hurts low-paid workers in particular." Voters realized that forcing wage hikes could lead to job cuts, and Switzerland's 3.2% unemployment rate is among the lowest globally.
Luisa Almeida, an immigrant from Portugal who works in Switzerland as a housekeeper commented, "If my employer had to pay me more money, he wouldn't be able to keep me on and I'd lose the job."
In April a minimum wage referendum was on the table in the United States Senate. Democrats had pushed for a $10.10 hourly minimum, which was promptly shut down by the GOP.
Image via Wikimedia Commons