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Switzerland – Petition growing for minimum monthly wage of CHF 2,500

07 October 2013

Some 120,000 Swiss signatories have put their names to a petition demanding a monthly minimum wage of CHF 2,500 (€2,000) for every single member of the working adult population, reports RT.com. Enough names have been collected for a government vote.

Anything less than the proposed amount would be deemed illegal, even for people working in the lowest paid jobs.

Enno Schmidt, founder of the Basic Income Initiative, told RT: “It could be one of the landmark historical moments, like the abolition of slavery, or the civil rights movement – of course, those who don’t want it will find excuses, but those who do want it will find solutions.” 

A date for the vote itself is yet to be confirmed, however, it could take place before the end of this year, depending on the decision of the Swiss government. The “1:12 initiative” has gained support across the government’s social democrat bloc. 

To mark the day, a truck load of eight million five-cent coins were deposited and spread out across the square in front of the Swiss Parliament in Bern on Saturday 5 October. 

The money to fund the measure, should it pass, would likely be supplied by the Swiss social insurance system. 

Oswald Sigg, former Swiss Vice-Chancellor, said:  “If there’s anywhere that can finance this, it’s Switzerland. Right now we have the ball rolling – it’s down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. It will then be up to lawmakers to determine exactly where the money will come from.”

However, it has caused serious concerns about tax rises and pension loss.

Che Wagner one of the co-starters of the Basic Income Initiative, said: “The older generation lived their whole lives in another system so it’s harder for them to actually realise what this means. They have fear, of course, for their pensions, and don’t instantly get that this is a replacement of an old system.”

As Switzerland has the 100,000 signature threshold, the country frequently votes on public measures. On 24 November the country will vote on another initiative to cap executive pay at the maximum of twelve times the lowest paid salary member. 

One of Switzerland’s biggest CEOs has stated that if the measure passes, he would seriously contemplate moving his company out of the country. “I can’t believe that Switzerland would cause such great harm to its economy,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

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Rebecca 08/10/2013 4:25 am

Glasenberg's attitude is typical of someone who cares more about their own pay packet then the wellbeing of those who work for him, and who are responsible for the huge amount of money he takes home every month.

If you feel slighted by the idea of having your monthly pay capped at what your staff earn in an entire year, you need to reassess your business priorities. To hide behind the unsubstantiated claim that this will hurt Switzerland's economy is not fooling anyone - we can all see where your priorities truly lie.

I commend Switzerland on this progressive move, and would encourage other countries to be brave, step up, and do the same.

Workers who are paid a good living wage are far better equipped to be productive in their roles. If you spend your workday worried over whether or not you will be able to make rent or pay your bills, you are not going to perform well. This should really go without saying, but unfortunately it does not seem to have sunk in yet.


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