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Women demand equal pay for equal work

Swiss bosses are being asked to hand women a bigger pay cheque. Martin Müller/Federation of Trade Unions

Women across the country are calling for the wage gap to be closed between them and men ten years after the equal opportunities law first came into force.

This content was published on June 14, 2006 - 16:32

A number of activities to mark "equal pay day" have been taking place to highlight that women are paid on average 20 per cent less than men for the same job, including protest actions and discussions.

The nationwide campaign – which is being supported by the unions - is distributing cards shaped like 50-franc notes, which are "worth" only SFr39, representing the reality in the workplace.

In Zurich, the public service union, VPOD-SSP, presented the canton and the city with bills totalling SFr3 billion ($2.4 billion).

This, it estimated, was how much women employees had missed out on over the past decade. A similar bill was also handed over to the Basel authorities.

In other parts of the country, workers, including some at swissinfo, were paid a symbolic sum to highlight wage disparity – women were given SFr1-2 and men only SFr0.60-80.

Pay more

Unia, the country's largest trade union, marked the day by calling on the retail sector to pay their female employees more.

It released the results of study, which found that these women were being paid 12.7 per cent less than their male colleagues, amounting annually to SFr1 billion.

This practice was not restricted to small shops either. Unia reported that discrimination on this scale was being exercised in businesses with more than 2,500 employees.

On Tuesday, the Federal Statistics Office revealed that the pay gap had been marginally reduced in recent years but wage discrimination was still taking place in four out of ten cases.

In 2004 women earned on average SFr4,781 gross a month, whereas the figure for men was SFr5,953, amounting to a difference of 19.7 per cent. In 2002 the difference was 20.7 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The principle of equal rights for women and men was enshrined in the Swiss constitution in 1981.

The Federal Law on Equality between Women and Men has been in force since 1996.

The Federal Office for Equality was set up in 1988.

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