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Unions go on offensive against low wages

The trade union federation's president, Paul Rechsteiner, wants to fight "scandalously" low wages in 2001


The Swiss Trade Union Federation has expressed satisfaction at the outcome of salary negotiations for the current year, but that more needs to be done to do away with underpaid jobs.

The federation's president, Paul Rechsteiner, said in Bern on Monday that salaries in several traditionally low-pay sectors, such as retail and cleaning companies, had gone up. He credited the unions for the success.

Rechsteiner said the federation would step up the fight against what he called scandalously low wages. He said he was pleased to see that many branches were moving back to across-the-board pay rises and were giving up the system of individual wage increases.

The Federation said it would focus its policy for 2001 on reforms of the tax system and the reduction of state debts. The Federation dismissed plans by the government and centre-right political parties to lower direct taxes.

The unions want an increase in Value Added Tax to be used to finance the social security system, including the old age pension scheme.

The Trade Union Federation also plans on campaigning for the introduction of a capital gains tax. It has already collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

The unions warned that there is still a shortage of apprenticeships for young people, particularly non-Swiss citizens. The federation called for measures to improve vocational training and to iron out salary differences between women and men.

The Trade Union Federation incorporates Switzerland's main unions and is allied with the Social Democratic Party.

swissinfo with agencies


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