Zurich moves to implement 23,90 franc an hour minimum wage by 2024

Zurich moves to implement 23,90 franc an hour minimum wage by 2024

After months of haggling, officials in Zurich have approved a plan to introduce a new minimum wage of 23,90 Swiss francs an hour. According to 20 Minuten, the move will see the salaries of 17.000 residents raised when the measure is set to come into force in 2024.

Inflation-adjusted minimum wage coming to Zurich

On Wednesday, a majority in the Social Affairs Commission of Zurich agreed on an “inflation-adjusted” minimum wage for employees in the city. The new minimum wage will be 23,90 Swiss francs an hour (around 4.000 francs a month), and will apply to all workers with the exception of people under the age of 25 years old who have “not completed training” - typically those in apprenticeships.

The plan is a compromise agreed upon after a number of Zurich political parties launched the “A wage to live” initiative in 2022, which called for an inflation-adjusted wage of 23 Swiss francs an hour. Speaking to 20 Minuten, Social Democratic Party co-president Oliver Heimgartner praised the compromise, saying "it will relieve many of those affected by low wages in the city of Zurich - employees at fast food chains, cleaning companies or employees in retail.” 

17.000 residents of Zurich earn less than 4.000 Swiss francs a month

The latest data shows that around 17.000 residents of Zurich have a salary of under 4.000 francs a month, two-thirds of which are women. Authorities explained that most of these people already can't afford to live in Canton Zurich, and as the cost of renting a house or apartment increases, and the housing shortage and cost of living crisis continue, many will be forced into poverty if their wages do not rise soon.

Heimgartner said that the new minimum wage rule will come into force in 2024. However, what with this being Switzerland, he predicted that there will likely be a referendum to decide the bill's ultimate fate. "I'm assuming that FDP. The Liberals and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) will hold the referendum…But I am confident that we will convince a majority of the population in the city of Zurich of the minimum wage," he concluded.

Opponents argue new minimum wage would lead to job losses

This idea of a referendum was near-confirmed by SVP councillor Susanne Brunner, who told 20 Minuten that the idea of an inflation-adjusted minimum wage “jeopardises jobs and at the same time harms industries." She also said the idea of applying a minimum wage would be a “bureaucratic nightmare,” and would undermine work contracts agreed upon through collective bargaining agreements.

Brunner concluded that any idea of an extensive minimum wage in Zurich should be rejected. However, the councillor went short of demanding a referendum. "We will now analyse the situation and communicate when the time comes", she concluded.

Image: / 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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