The Swiss Trades Union Federation is using May Day to renew its call for a minimum salary of SFr3,000. The federation president, Paul Rechsteiner (pictured), said hundreds of thousands of workers are at the lower end of the salary scale and are suffering.This content was published on April 29, 2000 - 16:55
The Swiss Trades Union Federation is using May Day to renew its call for a minimum salary of SFr3,000. The federation president, Paul Rechsteiner (pictured), said hundreds of thousands of workers are at the lower end of the salary scale and are suffering.
"About one in eight salaries is below the SFr3,000 level. That means hundreds of thousands of people, and you cannot live properly in this country on such an income," said Paul Rechsteiner (pictured), president of the Trades Union Federation and a Social Democratic member of parliament.
"Those at the lower end of the salary scale suffered in the 1990s and that must change now," he added.
The campaign for a minimum net salary of SFr3,000 was launched at the Davos congress of the Trades Union Federation in November, 1998.
Rechsteiner said that up until the end of the 1940s, Switzerland was on a par with other European countries as far as the number and intensity of strikes was concerned. He said that good collective contracts achieved from the 1950s onwards were the result of large strike action.
The contracts included better salaries and working conditions, as well as increased leisure time and holidays. But, said Rechsteiner, the picture changed again in the 1990s.
"If you look back over the past 10 years, salaries and working conditions have tended to worsen. From the workers' point of view, the 90s have been a lost decade and now it needs the will to fight back and if necessary go on strike," he added.
Rechsteiner says there has been much protest action in Switzerland over the past 15 months which has led to some successes, notably the collective contract achieved within the construction industry.
"Everywhere where people have come together and joined a union, salaries and working conditions have improved. This basic fact should be remembered on May 1, " he added.
The federation has also published a brochure on workers' protest actions over the past 15 months, with practical advice on how workers can organise themselves in a conflict.
by Robert Brookes