SWISS voters yesterday rejected a proposal to increase their annual minimum paid holiday entitlement from four to six weeks after firms warned it might hurt competitiveness and threaten jobs.
The initiative was put forward by trade unions, which argued that four weeks' holiday was insufficient because the pressure of work had increased so much.
But initial polling figures showed the proposal had been rejected by a clear 67pc of voters. The Swiss have a reputation in Europe for being efficient and hard working, a trait that has helped the country attract international companies and do well in competitiveness rankings.
But the Travail Suisse union said the referendum had taken place at a bad time because of the eurozone crisis.
"For many voters, it was understandable current concerns about their own jobs took precedence over the long-term welfare of people and Swiss business," it said in a statement.
"With their fear-mongering campaign, the opponents of the initiative played with the uncertainty of workers."
The main employers' association, which had lobbied hard against the proposal, welcomed the result.
"The 'no' to the holiday initiative means above all a 'yes' to the maintenance of the competitiveness of Swiss companies and the securing of jobs," it said in a statement.
"Adoption of the initiative would have pushed up already high labour costs in Switzerland and burdened business with additional costs of CHF6bn (€4.3bn) a year."
Average Swiss holiday entitlement is already around five weeks, as many firms offer more than the statutory minimum.