Swiss union boss warns of political and social unrest if wages do not rise

Swiss union boss warns of political and social unrest if wages do not rise

The head of the Swiss Trade Union Federation (SGB), Pierre-Yves Maillard, has warned of “political and social unrest” in Switzerland if workers are not given a pay rise. The SGB has called for a 5 percent increase in salaries to cope with the rising cost of living and the fall in real wages.

Switzerland experiencing price rises not seen in three decades

In an interview with SonntagsZeitung, Maillard said that people in Switzerland were experiencing “price increases like we have never seen in the course of the last three decades.” Previous research from the SGB has found that families are set to lose 250 Swiss francs a month to the rising cost of living, which has been compounded by a fuel and energy cost crisis.

The SGB argued that not increasing wages for all workers would have catastrophic consequences, as a large part of the population would have “real problems” paying for heating, food and health insurance this winter. “The employers and the political majority propose to let wages stagnate and to increase VAT, health insurance premiums and interest rates. This policy leads to rising unemployment, recession and, ultimately, poverty,” Maillard claimed.

Swiss union demands 5 percent salary increase for all workers

Therefore, the SGB and Maillard have demanded an average wage increase of 5 percent for all workers in the alpine nation. The wage rises would be determined by what type of job a person has, and would be encouraged in the sectors that are more hesitant to offer wage rises.

When asked whether a salary increase of that size was reasonable, the head of the SGB said that companies have already started to offer wage increases, citing hotel and catering staff in Switzerland agreeing to a new 40-franc minimum wage and EasyJet staff at Swiss airports receiving a salary increase of at least 7 percent to cope with inflation. “They show that it is possible to increase wages in general, contrary to what [employment unions in Switzerland] think,” he said.

The new demands also came with a stark warning, with Maillard asserting that not raising wages now was a recipe for disaster. "If employers do not raise wages, there will be social and political unrest," he concluded.

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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