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Swiss wages Manager-employee salary gap continues to widen

Travail.Suisse used the example of Richard Ridinger, CEO of Lonza Switzerland, who it claims earns 76 times more than the lowest-paid employee in the company


The gap between the salaries of managers and other staff members continues to grow, according to the Swiss employees’ association, Travail.Suisse. 

Between 2011 and 2016, the wages of managers increased by 17% on average, compared to 3.4% for employees, according to a survey by Travail.Suisse published on Thursday. 

It found that between 2015 and 2016, allowances given to chief executive officers in Switzerland rose by 5%. 

In 2011, the average ratio between the lowest and highest salaries in Swiss firms was 1:45; last year it had widened to 1:51. 

This trend is found in all sectors of the economy, not just in big companies in the finance and pharmaceutical fields, the association reported. 

The graphic below shows the salary gap for ten big Swiss firms based on recent figures from the largest Swiss trade union, Unia.

Graphic showing salary gap in Swiss companies

Travail.Suisse gave the example of Richard Ridinger, the head of the Basel chemical firm Lonza, who earns 76 times more than the lowest-paid employee in the company. Michael Müller, chief executive officer of the retail group Valora, earns 59 times more than his lowest-paid employee. 

According to Travail.Suisse, the adoption of the so-called Minder regulationsexternal link that came into effect in 2014 has failed to curb growing fat-cat salaries. 

The association calls for a proper revision of Swiss limited company law and greater transparency of top salaries, as well as a wider debate about pay levels. 

The study also found that although the proportion of female bosses in executive positions had doubled over the past ten years, just 6% of directors were women. 

The survey was based on interviews with 27 top Swiss firms.

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