Unions angered by "modest" pay rise

Unions say workers will be making fewer trips to restaurants Keystone

Union leaders have attacked salary levels in Switzerland, saying they are not keeping pace with inflation.

This content was published on December 21, 2004

Travail Suisse – one of the largest employees’ unions – said an average pay rise of 1.0 per cent next year would not encourage consumer spending and boost the economy.

At a press conference in Bern on Tuesday, Travail Suisse, the Syna, Transfair and Hotel&Gastro unions said workers would be no better off next year following the latest round of salary negotiations.

Unions said the fact that inflation hit 1.5 per cent last month indicated that the 1.0 per cent pay rise would not be enough.

“We need to cut the big salaries and increase those of low earners to spur growth,” declared Susanne Blank from Travail Suisse.

Blank added that economic uncertainty and the fear of a further wave of job cuts had influenced salary negotiations “despite a return to profitability in a number of sectors”.

The unemployment rate in Switzerland stood at 3.9 per cent at the end of November – its highest level in seven months.

Pay rise

According to Travail Suisse, wages have gone up by only 0.4 per cent a year over the past decade.

In August the union called for a 3.0 per cent salary increase, of which 1.0 per cent was to compensate for the rise in inflation.

Syna, which represents the industry, trade and services sectors, underlined that it was “imperative” to maintain the spending power of its members.

The union pointed out that families were facing a 4.0 per cent increase in health-insurance premiums and a 13 per cent increase in personal-accident insurance in 2005.

A report last month by the economics ministry noted that consumer confidence was not improving and that households were increasingly pessimistic about the future.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

According to a government report published last month, the number of “working poor” in Switzerland has risen for the first time in four years.

Around 231,000 people – 7.4% of the workforce – cannot get by on their salaries.

Unions say many workers will have to tighten their belts even further in the light of next year’s “modest” pay increase.

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