New demands for wage rises as Swiss purchasing power plummets

New demands for wage rises as Swiss purchasing power plummets

A new report published by the Tages-Anzeiger has found that Swiss workers have seen their purchasing power fall to the lowest level in 40 years. Experts noted that real wages are set to fall or stagnate for three years in a row, with little uptick in fortunes expected in 2024. Swiss unions have now promised a massive demonstration in September to protest in favour of wage rises.

Real wages in Switzerland fail to rise for three years straight

Citing data from the KOF Economic Research Centre at ETH in Zurich, the newspaper noted that salaries in Switzerland have failed to keep up with inflation for at least two years in a row. They explained that real wages - wages adjusted for inflation - fell by 0,8 percent on average in 2021, and by 1,9 percent in 2022.

Now, despite recent falls in inflation, the university predicted that workers will see no noticeable gain or loss in real wages in 2023. Experts noted that these are the worst purchasing power statistics seen in Switzerland since the 1970s, and the first time since the Second World War that real wages have stagnated or fallen for three years in a row. Next year is not set to provide much relief either, with the KOF predicting only a 0,3-percent rise in real wages.

The newspaper noted that, despite annual inflation falling to 1,6 percent in July, this decline is mainly due to a fall in the cost of energy, and that many other costs - like health insurance, rent and other goods - are set to rise in the next year. For example, the KOF predicted that rising rental costs will be responsible for the majority of inflation in Switzerland next year.

Swiss unions plan massive wage demo for September 16

The recent findings have led several unions to demand higher wages, with umbrella organisation Travailsuisse recently calling for all jobs in Switzerland to be given a pay rise of between 3,5 and 4,5 percent for 2024. In a statement given to the Tages-Anzeiger, they noted that the rising cost of living “has made workers poorer in the last two years” while many companies' profits are higher now than they were before the pandemic.

In response, Simon Wey from the Swiss Employers' Association described the demands as a “dream”. Nevertheless, the unions are set to take their plans to the streets, with a “charged” and massive “wage demo” planned in Bern for September 16.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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