While the battle continues in the US for a slightly higher minimum wage, the Swiss are exploring drastic methods to create a fair economy. One proposed method would provide a guaranteed 2,500 franc income to all citizens, regardless of whether or not they are employed. And if that doesn’t get the job done, a vote on May 18th could decide whether the Swiss will implement the world’s highest minimum wage of nearly $25 an hour. Both referendums come on the heels of unrest in Switzerland over income inequality.
Switzerland has one of the most stable and equitable economies in the world, but it also happens to be one of the most expensive places to live. The country also has an open system of government, which mandates that any citizen who can round up 100,000 signatures can get an issue on the ballot. So a few citizens got enough signatures to put the issue off a yearly wage of about $33,000 a year for Swiss citizens, whether they have a job or not, on the ballot.
While the minimum income issue will likely come up for a vote in the not-too-distant future, in the short-term, voters will be considering whether to institute a minimum wage in the country on May 18. Right now, Switzerland doesn’t have a minimum wage and some worry that creating one could drive business out of the country. Some employers have voluntarily raised wages in the meantime, while others have threatened to move their businesses out of the country if the issue passes.
Right now about 64% of voters reject the minimum wage, but there have been surprises in the past. Last year voters elected to cap executive pay and to curb immigration, to the surprise of many. What seems to be sure is that whether these particular issues pass or not, Switzerland is concerned with making sure that every citizen can live a comfortable life.