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Economic outlook Unions demand 2% wage increase as economy improves

The unions say Swiss employees have had to make do with only modest salary increases or wage freezes in recent years.


Staff should start enjoying the benefits of Switzerland’s improving economic performance, says the country’s second-largest trade union group, Travail.Suisse, which is demanding a 2% salary increase for workers. 

“It’s been some time since the economic perspectives have looked this positive. The forecasts announce solid and lasting economic growth. This recovery must have an impact on employees,” Travail.Suisse and associated unions Syna, Transfair and the Hotel & Gastro Union said in a statement on Tuesdayexternal link.

The unions say employees have had to make do with only modest salary increases or wage freezes in recent years. Since 2013, general salary increases have become much more uncommon. “Opaque individual salary measures, which are sometimes arbitrary, have become the norm,” they claim. 

Tuesday’s call for a 2% salary increase follows a similar demand by the main Trade Union Federation in mid-July.

This comes as reports suggest the Swiss economy is picking up. According to a survey in June by Switzerland’s main business lobby, Economiesuisse, the economy is expected to grow by 1.7% in 2017 and 2% in 2018 as the country puts behind it a period of an unusually strong Swiss franc which hurt exporters.

Switzerland's export-driven economy was hit by the Swiss National Bank’s sudden decision in January 2015 to end its cap on the franc versus the euro, sending the Swiss currency soaring and making Swiss products more expensive in their main export market.

Recent figures also showed Switzerland's manufacturers posting their strongest growth in more than six years for July, pointing towards a sustained upswing for the sector. This was attributed to "bulging order books" with the corresponding backlog of orders rising to its highest level since 2010. 

The weakening of the franc, which has fallen from CHF1.08 to the euro to CHF1.14 in recent weeks, has also reduced some of the pressure on Swiss firms, which had been forced to cut costs to remain competitive.

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