Swiss unions demand increase to all workers' wages
Travail.Suisse, a large umbrella organisation for trade unions in Switzerland, is calling for the salaries of all people working in Switzerland to be increased. The union claims that workers should be compensated for keeping the Swiss economy going during the coronavirus pandemic, and that industries that have profited from the pandemic should pay the most.
Swiss labour market was strong during coronavirus pandemic
The union says that certain industries, particularly those that were able to grow during the pandemic, should be paying their workers more to help the economy recover. Their demands state that workers in growing industries, such as Swiss banks and construction firms, should be given a higher raise than industries that suffered in the economic downturn, namely aviation and gastronomy. They also claim that the salary increase is necessary due to the threat of rising inflation.
Although the Swiss labour market didn’t suffer as badly as predicted, unemployment remains 35 percent higher than before the pandemic, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Watson reports that those who are newly employed have had to rely on short-term work contracts, jeopardising their purchasing power as consumers. Inflation is also a concern, with projections produced by Statista predicting a rise of 0,9 percent a year by 2024.
Mathias Regotz from the union Syna warns that “wages have stagnated too much in recent years." He notes that wages in certain sectors such as retail have seen limited wage rises over the past decade. The demand from Syna is that “In these industries, wage increases of 3 to 4 percent [should be] mandatory."
A setback for equal pay in Switzerland
The demands set out by the unions also take note of the continuing gap between the average wages of men and women in Switzerland. They say that despite the Equal Opportunities Act requiring all businesses with over a hundred employees to pay men and women the same, the system is not enforced or controlled. In response, they have created a new platform to ensure each complaint is taken seriously. They have also called on all international companies to prove that they comply with the act.
The demand for higher and more equal wages is not a new phenomenon. The Swiss Commercial Association presented their own demands last Thursday, saying that all workers needed a wage increase of at least 0,5 to 1,75 percent. Unions from many sectors of the economy agree that if Switzerland is to recover fully from the financial damage caused by COVID and inflation, workers must be adequately compensated.