Swiss reject plan to cap managers' pay

Nov 24, 2013 by Geir Moulson
In this Aug. 30, 2013 file picture members of the Unia workers union demonstrate in Zurich, Switzerland to support a referendum. Voters in prosperous Switzerland are delivering their verdict on a proposal to limit the pay of companies' highest-paid managers to at most 12 times that of their lowest-paid workers. Sunday's Nov. 24, 2013 referendum comes after voters in March voiced anger at perceived corporate greed by voting to boost shareholders' say on executive pay and ban one-off bonuses known as "golden hellos" and "goodbyes." The young socialist backers of the new "1:12 initiative" say that imposing a legal limit on salaries would ensure fairer pay. (AP Photo/Keystone,Walter Bieri,File)

Swiss voters soundly rejected on Sunday a proposal to limit the pay of companies' highest-paid managers to 12 times that of their lowest-paid workers, a plan that business leaders had warned could weaken the prosperous nation's economy.

Voters shot down the plan in a referendum by a margin of 65.3 percent to 34.7 percent, and all 26 of the country's cantons (states) voted against. Initiatives need a majority of both voters and cantons to pass.

Sunday's referendum came after voters in March voiced anger at perceived corporate greed by deciding to boost shareholders' say on executive pay and ban one-off bonuses known as "golden hellos" and "goodbyes."

However, the new "1:12 initiative" from Switzerland's Young Socialists calling for a fixed legal cap on pay appeared to be a step too far for centrist and conservative voters.

Switzerland is home to global business players such as Novartis and Roche; insurance groups Zurich and Swiss Re; and banks UBS and Credit Suisse.

Backers of the "1:12 initiative" argued that imposing a legal limit on salaries would ensure greater fairness while still giving top bosses the chance to earn more money than, for example, government ministers.

But Swiss argued it would weaken the nation's competitiveness, make it harder to attract top talent and likely prompt some companies to move executives abroad.

In this Oct. 25, 2013 file picture a banner is fixed at the window of a house in Wildhaus, Switzerland to support a referendum. Voters in prosperous Switzerland are delivering their verdict on a proposal to limit the pay of companies' highest-paid managers to at most 12 times that of their lowest-paid workers. Sunday's Nov. 24, 2013 referendum comes after voters in March voiced anger at perceived corporate greed by voting to boost shareholders' say on executive pay and ban one-off bonuses known as "golden hellos" and "goodbyes." The young socialist backers of the new "1:12 initiative" say that imposing a legal limit on salaries would ensure fairer pay. (AP Photo/Keystone,Arno Balzarini,File)

Opponents included Sepp Blatter, the Swiss president of world soccer's governing body FIFA, who argued that it would have the side-effect of seriously damaging Swiss soccer.

"Of course we're disappointed," Young Socialist leader David Roth told Swiss television.

"Our opponents succeeded in making people afraid," he said, though he insisted that there was "no future" for an "economic system based on salaries in the millions, on financial speculation."

The head of Switzerland's employers' association said he was greatly relieved.

"This is an important decision for Switzerland as a business location," Valentin Vogt said. "The people have decided clearly that setting salaries in this country is not a matter for the state."

Explore further: Amid scrutiny, Uber vows bigger focus on safety

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Swiss ecologists seek to curb immigration

Nov 02, 2012

A group of Swiss environmentalists on Friday submitted a bill to the government aimed at reining in immigration in the name of curbing population growth and protecting the environment.

Swiss private banking in clinch with high cost level

Oct 23, 2013

For the international wealth management industry, 2012 was a more benign year than the harsh 2011. Due to favorable stock and bond markets the volumes of managed funds increased, though not returning to pre-crisis levels. ...

Recommended for you

Two more former Sony workers sue over data breach

10 hours ago

Two more former employees of Sony Pictures Entertainment are suing the company over the massive data breach in which their personal and financial information was stolen and posted online.

Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

12 hours ago

Online shopping has become as volatile as stock market trading. Wild, minute-by-minute price swings on everything from clothes to TVs have made it difficult for holiday shoppers to "buy low."

'Interview' ordeal at Sony just its latest crisis

15 hours ago

How do you say "damage control" in Japanese? Sony Corp. is sealed within a hermetic cone of silence as executives try to prevent the slow motion train wreck at Sony Pictures from damaging the rest of the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.