The minimum wage initiative, on which the Swiss will vote on May 18, will have particularly negative consequences for the catering industry, according to the hotel and restaurant federation GastroSuisse.
Calling for the initiative to be “soundly rejected”, GastroSuisse’s vice-president Ernst Bachmann said a minimum wage fixed by the state would weaken Switzerland’s competitiveness even further and would be a return to a “salary diktat”.
“We pay the wages that our profits enable us to pay,” he said at the organisation’s annual press conference in Bern on Wednesday.
The initiative calls for the introduction of a minimum legal wage of CHF22 ($25) per hour, equivalent to a full-time monthly salary of about CHF4,000. This would be the highest in the world.
Also on Wednesday, GastroSuisse revealed that the Swiss ate out more often last year than the previous year, but they didn’t spend as much on their meals. In particular, fewer drinks were being bought.
In 2012, bills in Swiss restaurants totalled CHF23.1 billion, down 2.6% on 2012.
Per head, the Swiss spent CHF2,878 eating out, less than CHF7.90 a day. Men went to restaurants more than women and on average spent CHF1.30 more per meal than women.
GastroSuisse President Klaus Künzli pointed to the tough economic situation, adding that although the worst seemed to be over, they had yet to see evidence of a recovery. He said “pub death” in the countryside was a reality and was getting worse.
He also said voters’ decision on February 9 to limit immigration from the European Union was bad news for an industry of 210,000 workers of whom 44% are foreign.
The Swiss authorities have three years to work out how to implement the vote. For his part, Künzli wants to see “sufficiently large quotas, little bureaucracy and no discrimination for sectors that generate value”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies