A working group of Swiss trade unions, charities and aid organisations has called on the Swiss government to bring about a radical change in its economic and social policies, ahead of the United Nations World Social Summit in Geneva at the end of June.
The last World Social Summit was held in Copenhagen in 1995 at which hundreds of government representatives agreed on a common policy to tackle poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. The Geneva summit aims to take stock of what has been achieved since Copenhagen.
The Swiss working group is already sounding the alarm bells ahead of the World Social Summit by saying that the dominant economic policy adopted by governments has only increased the gap between the rich and poor.
Members of the group also asked the Swiss government to draw up a national strategy paper on creeping impoverishment, hidden unemployment and discrimination on gender and racial grounds. Coletta Nova, who is the executive chairperson of the Swiss Trade Union Association said, "a high proportion of working people in Switzerland are earning wages which don't even cover the bare minimum of living expenses. That's why we need minimum wages."
Peter Niggli, head of the Swiss coalition of development aid organisations, called upon the government to cancel the debt of third world countries. He also proposed the introduction of a tax to be levied on international currency exchange deals.
swissinfo with agencies