Swiss voters say no to longer annual holidays

ZURICH Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:28pm IST

Related Topics

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss voters rejected a proposal to increase employees' annual minimum paid holiday entitlement to six from four weeks on Sunday after firms warned it might hurt competitiveness and threaten jobs.

The initiative was put forward by trade union Travail.Suisse, which argued that four weeks holiday was insufficient because the pressure of work had increased so much in recent decades, causing rising stress and health problems.

But Swiss television said initial figures showed the proposal had been rejected by a clear 67 percent of voters.

The Swiss have a reputation in Europe for being efficient and hard working, a trait that has helped the country attract international companies and do well in competitiveness rankings.

The Travail.Suisse union said the referendum had taken place at a bad time due to serious economic concerns surrounding the euro zone crisis.

"For many voters, it was understandable that current concerns about their own jobs took precedence over the long-term welfare of people and Swiss business," it said in a statement.

"With their fear-mongering campaign, the opponents of the initiative played with the uncertainty of workers."

The main employers' association, which had lobbied hard against the proposal, welcomed the result.

"The 'no' to the holiday initiative means above all a 'yes' to the maintenance of the competitiveness of Swiss companies and the securing of jobs," it said in a statement.

"Adoption of the initiative would have pushed up already high labour costs in Switzerland and burdened business with additional costs of six billion Swiss francs a year."

It had argued that longer holidays would hurt firms already battling to cope with the impact of the safe-haven franc that has soared since the financial crisis, driven in particular by investors fleeing the euro zone.

Average Swiss holiday entitlement is already around five weeks, as many firms offer more than the statutory minimum.

In 2002, Swiss voters rejected a proposal to cut the working week to 36 hours from 42 hours.

Referendums are central to Switzerland's political system of direct democracy, and have been held on topics ranging from health insurance to smoking bans.

In a separate vote on Sunday, Swiss voters narrowly approved a proposal to limit the building of holiday homes, which are seen by many as a blight in Alpine villages.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

FILED UNDER:

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Oil Prices Fall

Oil Prices Fall

Brent near four-year low after OPEC decides against output cut  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

India says considering plan to reduce stake to 52 pct in state banks   Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

SAARC Summit

SAARC Summit

Summit salvaged after handshake by leaders of India, Pakistan  Full Article 

Social Media

Social Media

Twitter to start tracking users' mobile apps  Full Article 

Forever21 in India

Forever21 in India

Forever21 sets sights on Indian cities, but please hold the hot pants  Full Article 

Japan Economy

Japan Economy

Japan inflation slows in October, output and spending show signs of recovery  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage