Geneva, Switzerland may just have made world history in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voter in the Swiss city have agreed to raise the minimum wage to 23 Swiss francs, which is the equivalent to $25.
"This new minimum wage will apply to about 6% of the canton's workers as of November 1st," Geneva State Counselor Mauro Poggia stated.
Backed by a group of labor unions, 58% of voters approved the motion in an effort to fight "poverty, favoring social integration, and contributing to the respect of human dignity." The canton becomes the fourth of 26 Swiss cantons to improve their minimum wage. Communauté genevoise d'action syndicale, the parent organization for many of the area's labor organizations, called the move "a historic victory, which will directly benefit 30,000 workers, two-thirds of whom are women."
Raising the minimum wage to 23 Swiss francs comes as somewhat of a surprise. In 2011 and 2014, more than 70% of voters moved against raising the minimum wage to 22 Swiss francs.
"On two occasions in the past, initiatives to set a mandatory minimum wage in Geneva had been submitted to the population and rejected," Poggia said.
"On 27 September, a new vote on this subject was finally accepted, for a salary of 23 Swiss Francs per hour, or slightly more than 4,000 Swiss Francs per month for an activity of 41 hours per week."
From the perspective of a United States resident, a $25 hourly minimum wage looks astounding. However, the cost of living in Geneva is astounding as well. Geneva was ranked as the 10th most expensive city to live in last year. The recent increase in minimum wage will help put nearly 7% of the population above the poverty line. With that considered, American cities like New York have a considerably lower minimum wage, but rank higher on the list of most expensive cities to live in. At the end of 2019, New York did raise its minimum wage to $15, but it is still a far cry from the $25 minimum wage coming to Geneva.
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