In comparison to the UK, Switzerland is terrifyingly democratic, you cannot move for gigantic political posters, broadly all of which demand that the Federal Government does not interfere with the business of the various Cantons, adorning bus shelters and railway platforms. Getting a referendum requires only 100,000 signatures, something a few people might not mind having in good old Blighty.
So on 24 November a radical proposal, dubbed 1:12 after the ratio it seeks to set between the highest and lowest salaries in a company, will be put up for a referendum. It was originally put forth two years ago, and received more than the 100,000 signatures needed to put any issue to a popular vote as part of the aforementioned ferocious direct democratic system. Unsurprisingly the initiative has also received widespread support from Swiss unions.
Although the Confederation Helvetica has largely dodged the implosion of various EU economies (just don't mention the UBS!) public anger has risen over what is considered abusive levels of pay and bonuses for top bosses.
Last March, nearly 70 percent of voters came out in support of a new law flat-out banning golden parachutes and excessive executive bonuses.
That vote came amid national outrage over a 72-million-Swiss-franc ($79-million, 58-million-euro) golden parachute deal for Daniel Vasella when he stepped down as chairman of pharmaceutical giant Novartis in February.
While top executives in the country on average made just six times the salaries of their lowest-paid employees in 1984, the gap swelled to 13 times more by 1998 and 43 times more in 2011, according to the Swiss transport union.
At food giant Nestle, for instance the top executive was reportedly making 73 times the salary of the person on the bottom rung two years ago, while the lowest-paid employee at Novartis in 2011 would have to work 266 years to make the highest earner's annual salary.
Last month polls were suggesting the vote on 1:12 rule could be close, but in recent days the no campaign – backed by the government and parliament – appears to have turned the tide. A survey for Swiss television released on Wednesday pointed to a 54% to 36% defeat for the proposal, with 10% so far undecided.
Monday, 18 November 2013
My latest blogpost: Swiss to take on excessive executive pay at polls, againTweet this! Posted by SumoKing at 14:02