The Trade Union Federation has used the May 1 celebrations to demand a monthly salary of at least CHF4,000 ($4,530). The group has pushed for a minimum wage, an issue the public is set to vote on in just over two weeks.This content was published on May 1, 2014 - 15:27
President Paul Rechsteiner said trade union efforts ahead of a nationwide vote on May 18 had forced several major companies, notably in the retail sector, to raise minimum pay levels.
Speaking in neighbouring Germany, Rechsteiner said demands for minimum wages across national borders were just as important as the historic struggle for a ban on child labour, rules on maximum working hours or holidays.
Labour Day rallies took place in about 50 cities and towns across Switzerland where speakers also criticised government plans to raise the retirement age of women and a growing gap between the rich and the poor.
About 14,000 people participated in the demonstration in Zurich, according to organisers.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party, paid a visit to a precision tools factory outside the capital, Bern.
She stressed the importance of vocational training for individual employees and their companies as well as society. She praised companies which offer courses for further education.
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