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Geneva to introduce world-record £19 hourly minimum wage

Suban Abdulla
·2-min read
The hourly minimum wage in the Swiss city will be more than twice the rate in neighbouring France. Photo: Getty
The hourly minimum wage in the Swiss city will be more than twice the rate in neighbouring France. Photo: Getty

Geneva is to introduce a minimum wage of 23 Swiss francs ($25, £19.38) an hour — making it the highest in the world.

The hourly minimum wage in the Swiss city will be more than twice the rate in neighbouring France, with a guaranteed minimum monthly salary of 4,086 ($4,100, £3,457) Swiss francs based on a 41-hour working week.

Yearly it adds up to an annual income of 49,000 Swiss francs or £41,430.

Income in Geneva, known to be one of the most expensive cities to live in will be more than triple that in the US, at $7.25 (£5.56) per hour and more than double the UK’s highest basic hourly rate of £8.72 ($11.38).

Residents in the canton — an administrative region that includes the city of Geneva — voted for the measure in a surprise vote result amid growing coronavirus-linked poverty in the region.

The Swiss city’s economy, which heavily depends on on tourist and business visitors, has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and lockdowns with concern about growing queues of people outside food banks.

In 2011 and 2014, canton’s residents actually rejected the measures proposed by local unions and left-wing parties.

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The wage rise was approved by just over 58% of Geneva voters and the measure is expected to come into effect on 17 October.

Michel Charrat, president of the Groupement transfrontalier europeen, told the Guardian that the vote to pass the measure represented a “mark of solidarity” with the city’s poor.

“COVID-19 has shown that a certain section of the Swiss population cannot live in Geneva, 4,000 (Swiss francs) is the minimum to not fall below the poverty line and find yourself in a very difficult situation,” he said.

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