Executives still paid exorbitant salaries at big Swiss firms

UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti received CHF14.2 million in compensation for 2017, up from CHF13.7 million in 2016. Keystone

The gap between the top-paid and least-paid employees of the 39 largest companies in Switzerland remains high, despite a 2013 vote against excessive executive pay.

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According to Switzerland's largest trade union, Unia, in 2017 the average ratio between top and bottom in these companies was 1:143.

The chief executive of Switzerland’s leading bank UBS took home the highest salary, CHF14.2 million ($14.2 million). The bank has the widest gap between the highest and lowest earner (1:273), according to the Unia ranking published on Thursday.

The bosses of Novartis, Roche and ABB all have annual incomes more than 200 times higher than their lowest paid employee.

Collectively, CEOs at the top 39 companies earned CHF172 million – almost CHF1 billion if other types of remuneration are included in the calculation. And although the gap has narrowed slightly since 2016, Unia notes, managerial salaries remain high.


+ Read more about the 2013 vote to limit ‘fat cat’ salaries

By sector, the salary differential is most pronounced at big pharma companies (1:213), followed by banking and insurance (1:195).

A sharp contrast is also clear at food giants Nestlé and Lindt&Sprüngli (1:164). The gap is much narrower – just under 1:20 – at supermarket giants Migros and Coop.

The 2013 initiative to limit executive pay has not changed anything, Unia noted. While overall profits of the companies examined dropped by 24%, the salaries of their chief executives went down by just 3.4%.

Only one woman, Jasmin Staiblin, Alpiq's boss, was among the 39 bosses in question. With an income of almost CHF2 million, she places in the lower third of the ranking.

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