Minimum wage initiative gathers pace

A people’s initiative approved by trade unions on Monday to establish a minimum wage in Switzerland would benefit 400,000 workers, its backers say.

This content was published on May 17, 2010 - 16:23

The assembly of delegates of the Swiss federation of trade unions agreed on a text calling for a minimum wage of SFr22 ($19.5) per hour at 2011 rates.

This would apply to everyone except apprentices, trainees, family businesses and voluntary workers.

The federation named a range of sectors where low-wage jobs are found: cleaning, textiles, watchmaking, parts of the hospitality industry and the retail trade, and businesses whose employees do not have a general contract.

It believes the best way to ensure a minimum wage is via a general contract, which lays down conditions covering all workers in a particular industry or enterprise. The initiative therefore includes a demand that the government and the cantons should only work with companies whose employees benefit from such a contract.

The initiative will be put to vote as long as its backers can persuade 100,000 Swiss citizens to sign up to it. Collection of signatures will probably start in autumn.

If passed, it would come into force in 2015 at the earliest, federation spokesman Ewald Ackermann told and agencies

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In compliance with the JTI standards

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