Switzerland Overwhelmingly Rejects World’s Highest Minimum Wage

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Voters in Switzerland voted overwhelmingly against legislation that would have made its minimum wage the highest in the world.

The Decent Salary Initiative would have raised minimum wage to 22 Swiss francs, about $25, an hour.

Roughly 76 percent of voters were against the proposal, which critics say will only raise the cost of production and drive up unemployment, BBC News reported. Switzerland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world at 3.2 percent.

Proponents have criticized Switzerland, one of the richest countries in the world, for having a minimum wage below that of neighboring France and Germany.

Those in favor of raising the minimum wage say that the Swiss welfare system is being forced to subsidize businesses that won’t pay a living wage. They say earning less than 4,000 francs a month, about $4,500, is too little to pay for sky-high health insurance, rent and food.

Immigrant workers and workers in the agriculture, housekeeping and catering industries will suffer the greatest impact from the decision.

Other controversial referendums were on the ballot Sunday.

A Swiss Air Force plan to buy 22 Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets was rejected by 53 percent of voters.

Another 63 percent voted in favor of a law that imposes a life-long ban on convicted pedophiles against working with children.

Sources: BBC News, USA Today