19 May 2014

Swiss voters reject minimum wage

5:55 am on 19 May 2014

In a referendum on Sunday, voters in Switzerland rejected a proposed minimum wage that would have been the highest minimum wage in the world in a referendum.

Supporters holding paper planes during action to support the minimum wage earlier this month.

Supporters holding paper planes during action to support the minimum wage earlier this month. Photo: AFP

Only 23 percent of voters were in favour of introducing a minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs (about $US25) per hour.

Unions argued that the measure was necessary because of high living costs in big Swiss cities such as Geneva and Zurich. But critics argued that it would raise production costs and increase unemployment.

Switzerland currently has no minimum wage. The proposal was rejected by 76% of voters.

Minimum wages in other countries include: $US7.25 ($A7.74) in the United States, 9.43 euros in France, 5.05 euros in Spain and 8.50 euros in Germany, which will take effect next year.

The BBC reports it was the third referendum on pay in Switzerland in the last 18 months,

The issue was the most prominent of several referendums held on Sunday.

A plan to buy 22 Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets for the Swiss Air Force was narrowly rejected by 53% of voters.

Meanwhile, 63% backed a plan to impose a lifelong ban on convicted paedophiles working with children.

Referendums are held every three months in Switzerland.