Switzerland will vote on a measure to raise its minimum wage to 22 Swiss francs, or about $25 an hour. Currently, Australians have the world's highest minimum wage at $16.88 an hour.
The ballot proposal is sponsored by the Swiss Trades Union Confederation, which states that the measure will boost pay for 300,000 Swiss citizens, or about 10 percent of the country's workforce, mainly those in service and agricultural jobs.
Supporters cite the exorbitant cost of living in the country, with a fast food meal costing $15 and two pounds of chicken going for $28, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
Many Swiss corporations and government officials, however, are voicing concern about the proposal, which they argue will increase the nation's low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent.
“A minimum wage won’t stop poverty,” Economic Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann told The Christian Science Monitor. “This system would be counterproductive.”
Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé has also been public about its opposition to the wage hike. The measure is "unfavorable to job creation in Switzerland," Nestlé SA Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe told The Wall Street Journal.
Debate over the minimum wage and economic inequality is raging in countries around the world. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently agreed to hike her nation's minimum wage to $11.50, while the British have raised theirs to roughly $11 an hour. In the U.S., President Barack Obama has proposed a $10.10 minimum wage, but faces heavy opposition from congressional Republicans.
The outcome of the Swiss vote remains uncertain. Opinion polls showed support for the proposal two months ago, but a survey last week revealed that 64 percent plan to vote against the measure, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
This vote marks the third time in about a year that the Swiss have held popular votes on issues related to pay. In 2013, voters approved a law allowing shareholders of publicly traded companies to have a say in determining the compensation of top executives, but they didn't back a later proposal to cap CEO pay at 12 times the salary of the lowest-paid employee.
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