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

Countering China

Countering China

PM Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence  Full Article 

'India's Daughter'

'India's Daughter'

Society created Delhi gang rape convicts: Filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  Full Article | Related Story 

Kohli Censured

Kohli Censured

BCCI warns Virat Kohli against repeat of misbehaviour.  Full Article 

MUDRA Bank

MUDRA Bank

Funding the unfunded: India helps small business borrow to grow  Full Article 

PML(N)'s Hope

PML(N)'s Hope

Pakistan's ruling party looks for gains in upper house election  Full Article 

For Women's Right

For Women's Right

Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights.  Full Article 

U.S. Envoy Attacked

U.S. Envoy Attacked

Knife-wielding attacker slashes face of U.S. ambassador in South Korea  Full Article 

New Strategy

New Strategy

Ashwin mulls 'one-sided' ploy against big-hitters.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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