The USS calls for a salary increase of between 4 and 5% for 2023

The Swiss trade union (USS) on Friday asked for a 4-5% salary increase for next year. Unions believe it is time to compensate for the price increase and keep up with the stagnation of recent years.

“We ask for a minimum of balance, we could even speak of a minimum of common decency”, declared Pierre-Yves Maillard, president of the Swiss Union (USS). And list an expectation of GDP growth of 2.5% in 2022 and 1.9% in 2023, export growth of 11.5% in the first half of the year, unemployment at 2% – “the lowest level since 20 years” — or even dividends and share buybacks “at a historically high level.”

“And on the side of employees and families?” asked Mr. Maillard. “If we don’t adapt wages to the reality of rising cost of living with this data, when will we?”

The USS is demanding salary increases of 4 to 5%. This increase includes a compensation for inflation (between 3% and 3.5%), a 1% increase in real wages due to productivity growth and a recovery of the wage gap of recent years. “What has happened in recent years is unprecedented,” noted the national adviser.

Concern for “social peace”

The Waldensians appealed to “common sense” in favor of “national harmony and social peace”. According to him, we cannot invoke Covid-19 to prioritize economic recovery. In restaurants, hotels or hairdressers – areas impacted by the pandemic – salaries have been adapted, with real salaries increasing. “If it’s possible at home, it’s possible anywhere.”

Read too: Union demands for salary increases herald a bustling social autumn

Maillard also wants the state to partially offset the impending purchasing power crisis, speaking of an “unprecedented risk of impoverishment”. In addition to the rising cost of living, the Socialist Party national councilor criticized the fact that workers were asked to work even more at night and on Sundays.

Aviation sector is hit hard

Sanitary restrictions, mandatory vaccinations or even mass layoffs: the civil aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, recalled Sandrine Nikolic-Fuss, president of kapers, the union of cabin workers.

While planes are full and ticket prices are soaring, employees are understaffed, working for “indecent” wages, she lamented. The “precarious” working conditions and the great flexibility required make the number of employees fluctuate more than in other agencies.

Instead of improving working conditions and wages, companies prefer to recruit abroad, he said. “Social underbidding is undeniable.” Employees feel “cheated” and “betrayed” after participating in the task force during the crisis.

A salary increase of 5%, not counting the real evolution of salaries in the various companies, is a minimum, according to Ms. Nikolic-Fuss. “A salary of less than 4,000 gross francs a month is simply a disgrace. (…) It is unacceptable that a full-time job does not allow you to live decently in Switzerland.”

Difficult salary increase

Raising wages by that proportion can be tricky, the Swiss Employers’ Union (UPS) responded on Friday in a press release. She reckons that the war in Ukraine caused upheavals that destabilized a “hitherto flourishing” economy.

Read too: Salary increases: possible and necessary

Some companies experience rising commodity prices that hamper their business. Furthermore, inflation is “largely imported”. It doesn’t match the margins companies make, UPS adds.

energy crisis

In the field of energy, Mr. Maillard recalled that almost 20 years ago, the Swiss people refused the law that demanded complete liberalization of the electricity market, “thanks to the unions”. He criticized those who defended this liberalization and are now preparing to “ask for state aid or a return to monopoly and regulated prices to compensate for the increase in energy costs”.

The Waldensians, who have learned that certain companies or institutions will see their electricity bills rise tenfold over the next year, have advocated a “definitive burial” of any desire to liberalize this branch. And demand the urgent restoration of public or at least regulated monopolies.

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