On 27 September 2020, half a million people in the Swiss city of Geneva voted in favour of introducing a minimum wage of 4,086 Swiss francs (equivalent to 3788 EUR), in an effort to tackle Covid19-induced poverty in the region.
This will mean that those working in Geneva will be paid twice the rate typically offered to workers in France, and will receive the highest rate of minimum hourly wage in the world.
Geneva, which has been listed as the third most expensive city in the world to live in by ECA International, has been hugely affected by the onset of the Covid19 pandemic. It is a highly popular tourist destination, and its local economy is usually fuelled both by tourism and by travellers who visit Geneva frequently on business. However, travel restrictions have resulted in the loss of many jobs in the region, forcing an increasing number of people to rely on food banks.
Michel Charrat is the president of the Groupement transfrontalier europeen (European cross-border grouping), an independent organisation that supports those living and working on the French-Swiss border. Charrat welcomed the wage increase, adding that it would benefit 30,000 low-income workers, of which approximately sixty-six percent are women. He noted that the wage increase would not create prosperity, but instead that it was the minimum rate of pay required by workers so that they would not fall below the poverty line.
Alexander Eniline of the Swiss Labour Party dismissed claims that the introduction of the minimum wage would result in an increase in unemployment. Eniline felt that “the introduction of a minimum wage is a fundamental requirement of justice, and an essential measure against precariousness.”
The wage increase is due to commence on 17 October 2020.