Unions call for salary increase
The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions has recommended a salary increase of between two and three per cent for 2004 in a bid to boost the economy.
The federation also criticised the economics minister, Joseph Deiss, for not doing enough to stimulate economic growth.
Union leaders said salaries had to increase by a minimum of two per cent if consumer spending and investment were to increase.
“Next year will see a drop in employees’ disposable cash, while health insurance and pension fund premiums will rise,” said Paul Rechsteiner, president of the federation.
Most unions support a salary rise of two to 2.5 per cent. Others, such as the Industry and Building Union, want to see a rise of 3.5 per cent.
However, the main employers' organisation rejected the demands as unreasonable at a time of economic crisis in Switzerland.
Daniel Hefti, deputy director of the Swiss Employers Union, said the two per cent rise was excessive, adding that employers were not responsible for the increase in premiums.
Deiss under fire
The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions also criticised the economics ministry for failing to take decisive action.
The number of registered jobless in Switzerland rose slightly in July by 1,214 to 141,699 - the first increase in four months.
It has leapt by more than 40,000 since last October and is expected to top 150,000 by the end of the year.
“Considering the dramatic rise in unemployment, the almost total passivity of the economics ministry is astonishing,” said Serge Gaillard, secretary of the federation.
“It’s high time Joseph Deiss lived up to his job title.”
Gaillard added that the situation looked set to deteriorate next year as a result of a decrease in public investment.
“The government must create financial incentives to curb a drop in public investment next year,” he said.
The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions contested a study by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, which found that public investment in 1997 had no effect on the economy.
swissinfo with agencies
The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions said salaries must increase by at least two per cent to curb an expected drop in spending next year.
Increased pension and health care costs would also put a strain on disposable income, the federation warned.
The federation said the economics minister, Joseph Deiss, must do more to encourage public investment.
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