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Wage demo Thousands demonstrate in Bern for equal pay

Demonstrators in front of parliament in Bern

Demonstrators gather in front of parliament in Bern

(Keystone)

A national rally in favour of equal pay and against discrimination has taken place in the Swiss capital, attracting some 20,000 people, according to organisers. 

Unions, political parties and supporting organisations said in the run-up to the rally on Saturday that although equality was enshrined in the constitution 37 years ago and the law had been in force for 22 years, even today power and money are distributed differently among women and men. 

Women earn about a fifth less than men, are underrepresented in politics and business and do most of the unpaid work, they added. As a result, every woman loses out on an average of CHF600 ($625) a month – money that was not being paid to wives, their families and retirement plans, and was also not being paid in taxes. 

The organisers called on the House of Representatives to enforce the Equality Act with effective instruments, arguing for mandatory wage controls and fines for companies that don’t respect wage equality. 

In May, the Senate decided that companies employing at least 100 workers – that is, less than 1% of employers – should carry out a pay equality analysis every four years and have it verified by an independent body. The Federal Council wanted to set the bar at 50 workers. 

The House of Representatives will vote on the issue on Monday, with the decision expected to be tight. 

SDA-ATS/ts

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