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Swiss may vote on jobless benefits reform

The government has given the go-ahead for a nationwide vote on a reform to unemployment benefits on September 26, if the required signatures are gathered.

The Social Democrats and trade unions behind the initiative must gather 50,000 signatures in support of the referendum by July 8.

Proponents are against planned reforms to the law on state-run unemployment benefits and say undermining the country’s social security system would particularly affect young people.

The initiative was launched last month after a reform was approved by parliament.

The government and supporters of the reform argue stricter measures are crucial to contain rising debts of the insurance scheme. In 2009 they totalled about Fr5.6 billion ($5.3 billion), according to the economics ministry.

Daily allowances would be reduced and waiting periods for eligibility extended, according to the amended law. Those under 25 years of age would also be required to accept any job offer, while those over 55 qualify for the maximum number of daily allowances only if they have paid contributions for a minimum of 22 months instead of the current 18 months.

The amended law also raises the regular contributions by employers and employees to the insurance scheme by 0.1 per cent of the salaries each.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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