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Europe

Swiss voters reject world’s highest minimum wage

© AFP

Video by Claire WILLIAMS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-18

The Swiss on Sunday rejected a referendum proposal to create the world's highest minimum wage in 24 of 26 cantons, according to Swiss TV.

The Swiss on Sunday rejected a referendum proposal to create the world's highest minimum wage in 24 of 26 cantons, according to Swiss TV.

The idea of creating the world's highest minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs (18 euros) per hour would have eclipsed the existing highest minimum wages in force elsewhere in Europe, and was criticised by government and business leaders as likely to drive Switzerland's high costs even higher.

The "Decent Salary" initiative insists the wage is needed to get by in the wealthy Alpine nation.

Trade unions backed it as a way of fighting poverty in a country that, by some measures, features the world's highest prices and most expensive cities.

But the initiative, which has drawn envious and incredulous attention from abroad, appeared sure to flop, with voters heeding warnings from opponents, including the government, that the sky-high minimum wage would deal a death blow to many businesses, cost jobs, and would weaken Switzerland's healthy economy.

Switzerland currently has no minimum wage, but the median hourly wage is about 33 francs (€27 euros) an hour.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which adjusts figures for spending power, lists the highest current minimum wage as Luxembourg's at €7.8 an hour, followed by France at €7.7, Australia at €7.4, Belgium at €7.3, and the Netherlands at €6.9. The US wage, an adjusted €5.1 down from the actual €5.3 rate, came tenth on the list.

Adjusted for its high prices, the OECD said Switzerland's wage proposal would have represented about €10.2 an hour based on a 42-hour work week.

Referendums are a regular feature of democracy in Switzerland, which features a weak central government and strong state governments.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

Date created : 2014-05-18

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