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Geneva just introduced a $25/hour minimum wage. That's the highest in the world.

This is the fourth canton in Switzerland to adopt a minimum wage, projected to affect six percent of all workers.

Geneva just introduced a $25/hour minimum wage. That's the highest in the world.
Image Source: Getty Images/ Massonstock

As of November 1, the canton of Geneva in Switzerland will guarantee its employees a $25 per hour minimum wage to all its employees. Voters in the European nation agreed to introduce the minimum wage in order to "fight poverty, favor social integration, and contribute to the respect of human dignity." The minimum wage, backed by several labor unions in the country, is believed to be the highest in the world, CNN reports. At a time when thousands of workers in the United States are barely making a living, Geneva has set a precedent for taking care of its labor force.

 



 

 

Geneva State Counselor Mauro Poggia explained in a statement, "This new minimum wage will apply to about six percent of the canton's workers as of November 1. On two occasions in the past, initiatives to set a mandatory minimum wage in Geneva had been submitted to the population and rejected. On September 27, a new vote on this subject was finally accepted, for a salary of 23 Swiss Francs per hour, or slightly more than 4,000 Swiss Francs per month for an activity of 41 hours per week." The two previous votes to set a minimum wage took place in 2011 and 2014. In the vote that took place six years ago, 76 percent of voters were opposed to an hourly minimum wage of 22 Swiss Francs. The wind has finally shifted.

 



 

 

The umbrella organization of labor unions in Geneva, communauté genevoise d'action syndicale, called the result of last month's vote "a historic victory, which will directly benefit 30,000 workers, two-thirds of whom are women." For minimum wage employees in the United States, the $25 per hour rate probably stands out. However, it must be noted that Switzerland is one of the world's 10 most expensive countries to live in. Those who currently earn minimum wage in the canton will now only be placed slightly above the country's poverty line. It is likely that the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic affected the vote, particularly because low-income workers were most affected by the ensuing lockdown measures.

 



 

 

"I think many people realized how many people are working in these sectors. It's not like everyone here is working for a bank or a chocolate factory. We also have a broad service sector that was hit hard due to the lockdown," said Michael Grampp, Deloitte's chief economist in Switzerland. "It definitely helped push the vote towards almost 60 percent." At present, the economic impacts of the public health crisis are "being contained" due to Switzerland's strong social security program. Nonetheless, this move was an essential part of improving workers' conditions within the country.

 



 

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