Geneva minimal wage: Voters approve $25 an hour, believed to be highest on the earth

A 2019 file photo shows the St. Pierre Cathedral overlooking the roofs in the center of Geneva, Switzerland.


In keeping with authorities knowledge, 58% of voters within the canton had been in favor of the initiative to set the minimal wage at 23 Swiss francs an hour, which was backed by a coalition of labor unions and aimed toward “preventing poverty, favoring social integration, and contributing to the respect of human dignity.”

Whereas Switzerland has no nationwide minimal wage regulation, Geneva is the fourth of 26 cantons to vote on the matter in recent times after Neuchâtel, Jura and Ticino.

“This new minimal wage will apply to about 6% of the canton’s employees as of November 1st,” Geneva State Counselor Mauro Poggia informed CNN in a press release.

Communauté genevoise d’motion syndicale, the umbrella group of unions in Geneva, described the consequence as “a historic victory, which is able to immediately profit 30,000 employees, two-thirds of whom are ladies.”
The choice was additionally praised by Michel Charrat, president of the Groupement transfrontalier européen, an affiliation of employees commuting between Geneva and close by France.
Charrat informed The Guardian that the coronavirus pandemic “has proven {that a} sure part of the Swiss inhabitants can not dwell in Geneva,” and argued that the brand new minimal wage is “the minimal to not fall beneath the poverty line and end up in a really troublesome state of affairs.” Charrat did not return a CNN request for remark.
The Geneva Council of State, the native government department, stated in an opinion in opposition to the measure that the brand new minimal wage could be “the best on the earth.”

A measure launched by residents

The Swiss system of direct democracy calls on voters to train their proper 4 instances a yr, and permits residents to gather signatures to introduce “standard initiatives” to be enacted.

“On two events prior to now, initiatives to set a compulsory minimal wage in Geneva had been submitted to the inhabitants and rejected,” stated Poggia, who’s accountable for the Division of Safety, Labor and Well being for the Geneva canton.

The 2 earlier votes came about in 2011 and 2014, and within the newest case, it was a nationwide referendum to introduce an hourly minimal wage of 22 Swiss Francs, which discovered 76% of voters had been opposed.

RELATED: Swiss voters reject $25 minimal wage

“On 27 September, a brand new vote on this topic was lastly accepted, for a wage of 23 Swiss Francs per hour, or barely greater than 4,000 Swiss Francs per thirty days for an exercise of 41 hours per week,” Poggia added. That is roughly $4,347 per thirty days.

Whereas a $25 per hour minimal wage may look staggering from the angle of america, the place the federal minimal wage is $7.25 an hour, context is vital.

World's most expensive cities to live in
Geneva is the 10th most costly metropolis on the earth, based on The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2020 Worldwide Value of Dwelling Survey. The roughly 4,000 Swiss francs employees will now earn places them barely above the poverty line of three,968 Swiss francs for a family of two adults and two kids youthful than 14, as estimated by the Swiss Federal Statistical Workplace in 2018.
Switzerland is among the many wealthiest nations on the earth, but it surely wasn’t shielded from the damaging affect of the coronavirus pandemic on its financial system.
Total, the Swiss authorities’s financial specialists group expects the adjusted Swiss GDP to fall by -6.2% in 2020, and common unemployment to be round 3.8%, the bottom financial hunch since 1975.

Did coronavirus affect the vote?

Michael Grampp, Deloitte’s chief economist in Switzerland, stated he believed the coronavirus pandemic had an affect in figuring out what number of voters had been in favor of passing the minimal wage initiative. Low earnings employees within the service sector had been essentially the most affected by the lockdown measures put in place in Switzerland.

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“I feel many individuals realized how many individuals are working in these sectors. It isn’t like everybody right here is working for a financial institution or a chocolate manufacturing unit. We even have a broad service sector that was hit laborious as a result of lockdown,” Grampp informed CNN.

“It undoubtedly helped push the vote in the direction of virtually 60%,” he added.

Grampp believes extra cantons will enact minimal wage laws. However Poggia stated he would not consider the pandemic had a major affect on the vote.

“In comparison with different international locations, given the robust social safety protection in Switzerland, the financial results of Covid are at present being contained, although job losses are already occurring within the sectors which were immediately affected, reminiscent of tourism, accommodations and eating places,” he stated.

Lengthy traces at no cost meals

These job losses are forcing individuals to hunt assist.

Mile-long traces at free meals distributions in Geneva made headlines worldwide, they usually proceed to happen, based on Charlemagne Hernandez, the co-founder of Caravane De Solidarité, an activist group in Geneva that has kickstarted the distributions within the metropolis, principally via donations.

Hernandez informed CNN the group he now works for, the non-profit Colis du Coeur, helped an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 individuals every week in the course of the summer season, distributing luggage of recent produce and dry items sourced via donations, the official Geneva meals financial institution, and numerous charitable teams. Colis du Coeur is continuous meals distribution via the winter.

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Hernandez stated he believes the adoption of the minimal wage initiative in Geneva was “crucial,” as unemployment represents an existential risk for thus many low earnings employees within the metropolis. “It should boil right down to not having sufficient to eat,” he stated.

Geneva is named the humanitarian capital of the world due to the presence of so many worldwide organizations and UN places of work specializing in humanitarian affairs. Hernandez stated solidarity within the metropolis “is way stronger lately than regular,” as individuals reply to requires donations in nice numbers, serving to the meals distributions to proceed.

To those that are skeptical about poverty being a problem in a rich nation reminiscent of Switzerland, Hernandez invitations individuals to not decide.

“I come from a slum in Manila initially, so it is true, it isn’t the identical form of poverty, however in the event you’re hungry, you are hungry. That is a benchmark you can’t deny,” Hernandez stated.

Correction: This story has been up to date to mirror Hernandez’s affiliation with Colis du Coeur, and to make clear the position of Colis du Coeur and different charitable organizations concerned in meals distributions in Geneva.


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