Swiss to Vote on $25 Minimum Wage

Referendum Sunday would make it the highest in the world

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 16, 2014 5:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – This makes Seattle's plan for a $15-an-hour minimum wage seem like chump change: Switzerland residents vote Sunday on a $25 minimum wage, which would be the highest in the world, reports USA Today. The change would affect about 10% of the nation's workforce, or 330,000 people, most of them immigrants working in retail, agriculture, or catering. Trade unions and other supporters say it's necessary because the cost of living is so high in Switzerland. In fact, the World Bank considers it the most expensive country in the world, notes the Christian Science Monitor.

"Rents are astronomical, health insurance is incredibly expensive, food is incredibly expensive," a housekeeper in Geneva tells the BBC. "I'm working 60 to 70 hours a week to reach that, and even that is barely enough. Frankly I think it's verging on slavery." But for every quote like that, there's one like this from another woman, also a housekeeper: "If my employer had to pay me more money, he wouldn't be able to keep me on and I'd lose the job." (The vote comes as fast-food workers around the world are pushing for higher wages, too.)

Demonstrators in favor of the proposed minimum wage in Switzerland march in Geneva in this file photo.
Demonstrators in favor of the proposed minimum wage in Switzerland march in Geneva in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)
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