Business leaders split over wage cuts after franc surge

Keeping business costs under control while making sure purchasing power stays strong is a thin line to tread Keystone

A number of business leaders spoke in the Sunday newspapers about how they expect the effects of the unpegged Swiss franc to play out in the coming months.

This content was published on January 25, 2015 - 17:53 and agencies

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche, the head of recruitment company Adecco, Patrick de Maeseneire, said that wage cuts or longer working hours would be “absolutely” necessary in export-dependent businesses or tourism.

He commented there was no alternative, and that without concessions on all sides there would be job cuts.

However, Peter Spuhler, head of train production firm Stadler Rail, told the SonntagsZeitung he was set against wage reductions. “It damages the atmosphere in the workplace.” He also told the newspaper it was a mistake to reduce people’s spending power.

It would be “more intelligent”, Spuhler said, “to increase the amount of time worked in the week by two hours”. He said that Stadler Rail is discussing such measures at the moment. He believes his staff will share the responsibility if it is a temporary change.

UBS head Sergio Ermotti wouldn’t be drawn on any specific points by the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, but commented it was helpful that the bank had already begun to focus on efficiency two years ago. Of course, they still had to keep an eye on costs, he added.

Switzerland’s price watchdog, Stefan Meierhans, said in an interview with the SonntagsBlick paper that “in 2011, the last time the franc was so high, it took six to nine months until prices sunk across the board”.

This time it is happening much faster he said, as businesses do not want to give customers any more cause for irritation.

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