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Switzerland citizen's reject highest minimum wage in world

The citizens of Switzerland last week rejected a proposed change in their national law which would have seen the national minimum wage in Switzerland set at the highest rate in the world, reports The Independent.

The Swiss are already known for being the home of Swiss banks, and a nation where the cost and standards of living are famously high.

This weekend citizens were asked to vote on a proposal to set the Swiss national minimum wage at 22 Swiss Francs per hour, the equivalent of £14.67 per hour, a rate more than double the UK National Minimum Wage of £6.31 per hour for over 21s.

Switzerland has no official minimum wage at present, but national incomes are protected by voluntary collective agreements made between workers and their Unions and employers on a sector-by-sector basis.

The Swiss SGB Union believes that the law is needed to protect workers from the highest cost of living in the world. They claim that around 330,000 workers are hurt when they earn less than 4,000 Swiss Francs (£2666.65).

Critics of the minimum wage proposals in Switzerland say that the increase will hit small businesses and employers hardest, leading to unemployment for thousands.

The Swiss Federal Council of Ministers said: "A legal minimum wage is a bad way to help people with low incomes, there would be a high risk that jobs disappear."

The Swiss were voting not only on the minimum wage but also on other proposals including whether the nation should buy new fighter jets for the army and whether paedophiles should face a lifetime ban from working with children.

The Swiss public is asked to vote four times a year on a wide variety of proposals in a unique model of democracy where citizens are asked to vote directly on all major political decisions. Swiss citizens are also allowed to propose laws if an idea gathers enough public support.