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Protests by shop staff pay off

Migros has conceded a minimum wage of SFr3,000 a month for all its staff members


Protests by staff and trade unions demanding better wages at the Swiss supermarket giant, Migros, have yielded results. Migros announced on Saturday it would ensure wages above SFr3,000 for all shop workers.

The supermarket chain, Migros, made its intentions clear in several newspaper advertisements: by next year around 700 staff earning less than SFr3, 000 gross will have their wages topped up. The advertisements went on to say that by 2003 there will be a minimum wage of SFr3,300 at the store.

Saturday's announcement follows a round of tough pay negotiations at the beginning of November, which the Swiss union of retail workers described as "a failure". The talks broke down, when Migros refused to agree to pay increases across the board.

The union has indicated that it is seeking a compromise deal with Migros via a government mediator.

The Swiss newspaper "Der Bund", meanwhile, reported on Saturday that the staff of one of Switzerland's most prestigious hotels are also unhappy about pay conditions. Workers at the Bellevue Palace Hotel in Bern, where foreign heads of state such as Queen Elizabeth and Fidel Castro stay when they are visiting, have been protesting about their income.

A union official for the hotel and catering industry told "Der Bund": "It's outrageous that one of the most renowned hotels offers its staff the lousiest working conditions." It is no secret that the building belongs to the Swiss Federal government, which makes the situation even worse in the eyes of the protesting staff.

According to flyers distributed by some of the catering staff on Friday, employees with five years experience earn as little as SFr2,750 a month and waiters are asked to work 10 hour shifts with frequent overtime requirements.

However, the hotel's manager, Melchior Windlin, reacted by saying that overtime was always compensated and that all members of staff earned more than the legal minimum wage of SFr2,550 a month.

swissinfo with agencies

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