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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Swiss reject minimum wage plan

Published 18/05/2014 | 15:27

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The referendum was to introduce the world's highest minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs (£14.66 an hour)

The Swiss have rejected a referendum proposal to create the world's highest minimum wage, according to Swiss TV.

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The idea of creating the world's highest minimum wage was criticised by government and business leaders as likely to drive Switzerland's high costs even higher.

The Federal Council was expected to hold a news conference shortly to announce official results.

The referendum was to introduce the£14.66) world's highest minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs ( an hour).

Voters also cast ballots on three other citizen-inspired referendums.

Switzerland's unique system of popular rule involves a weak federal government, 26 strong state governments and regular national referendums on issues.

The other referendums, if passed, would provide the Swiss Air Force with 22 of Saab's new Gripen fighter jets; impose a lifetime ban on convicted paedophiles working with children; and amend the constitution to support more family doctors in rural areas.

Trade unions back the wage proposal.

Switzerland currently has no minimum wage.

Swiss TV said the referendum was rejected in 24 of 26 cantons, with vote counting still not completed in Bern and Zurich.

The proposal would have eclipsed the existing highest minimum wages in force elsewhere in Europe. Trade unions backed it as a way of fighting poverty in a country that, by some measures, features the world's highest prices and most expensive cities. But opinion polls indicated that most voters sided with government and business leaders, who argued it would cost jobs and erode economic competitiveness.

Switzerland currently has no minimum wage, but the median hourly wage is about 33 francs (£21.99) an hour.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which adjusts figures for spending power, lists the highest current minimum wage as Luxembourg's at £6.33 an hour, followed by France at £6.30, Australia at £6.07, Belgium at £5.92, and the Netherlands at £5.63.

Adjusted for its high prices, the OECD said Switzerland's wage proposal would have represented about £8.32 an hour based on a 42-hour work week.

Swiss TV said partial vote tallies showed voters were narrowly defeating the plan for the jets, but approving by wide margins the paedophile child-employment ban and medical reform measures.

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