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article imageSwitzerland to vote on world's highest minimum wage

By Brett Wilkins     Mar 5, 2014 in World
Berne - Swiss voters will head to the polls in May to decide whether to raise the wealthy alpine nation's minimum wage to 22 Swiss francs ($24.73) an hour, by far the world's highest.
Reuters reports the referendum, which will be decided on May 18, has raised alarm among government officials, who fear the measure, if passed, will harm the nation's competitiveness and lead to job cuts.
"The government is convinced it would be wrong for the state to impose a nationwide wage," economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann told reporters at a Tuesday news conference.
The minimum wage hike was proposed by the union SGB and backed by the Socialist Party. Some 330,000 Swiss workers, mostly women, currently earn less than 4,000 CHF per month, or 22 CHF an hour. There is currently no minimum wage in Switzerland.
The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world. Three of the world's 20 most expensive cities-- Lausanne, Zurich and Geneva-- are Swiss, according to the website Expatistan. But Swiss banking giant UBS claims high salaries make up for the high cost of Swiss living, with Zurich residents enjoying the world's highest purchasing power in 2012.
According to the OECD, the 10 nations with the highest hourly minimum wages (listed here in US dollars) in 2012 were:
Australia- $16.00
Luxembourg- $13.35
France- $11.73
Belgium- $10.99
Ireland- $10.93
New Zealand- $10.73
Netherlands- $10.47
Canada- $9.85
United Kingdom- $9.38
Japan- $9.24
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