14 June marked the anniversary of the massive mobilisation and strike action of women workers across the country to highlight persistent gender inequality. Latest figures show a gender pay gap of close to 20% and an even higher pensions gap of nearly a third. With major mobilisations impossible in the current situation, a week of online and local actions were organised in the week beginning 8 June to highlight the urgent need for action to tackle inequality.
Gender pay gap, Central government, Switzerland
Following the national women's strike last month, the vpod/ssp public services union has set out a range of demands to tackle gender inequality across the public services and with particular measures in the childcare, health and education sectors. The union wants to see equal pay auditing of all public employers with the involvement of the union and an across-the-board pay increase for occupations and sectors dominated by women - particularly care jobs. Along with this the union underlines the importance of stable and reliable working hours and a range of measures in relation to maternity and
The vpod/ssp public services trade union along with the SGB/USS trade union confederation is continuing to build for the national women's strike planned for 14 June. The aim of the strike is to address 10 major issues including the gender pay gap, work-life balance, working hours that are either too short or excessively long, sexual harassment and violence, inadequate pensions and the undervaluation of women's work. Along with strike action the unions will be organising events and actions at workplaces and towns and cities across the country.
The federal collective bargaining committee, including public services union vpod, is calling on the government to include in the 2020 budget funding for a pay rise to fully compensate for inflation. It also wants a minimum increase CH 200 (EUR 175) per month to the benefit of lower paid workers. The positive fiscal situation means that the government is also committed to a pay rise in 2019 to cover inflation. The unions also want concrete measures on work-life balance for those with caring responsibilities.
Negotiations between public service unions and the federal government have yet to produce an agreement and further bargaining will take place next February. The unions are looking for an increase of 1.5% but the government offer is only 0.8%, below the forecast inflation rate of 1%. The unions argue that federal finances are sound with surpluses predicted for both 2018 and 2019 while the economy is also set to grow by 2%. On this basis they argue that federal government workers deserve a pay rise at least in line with inflation.
The vpod/SSP public services union has called on the government to ensure it budgets for a pay increase of at least 1.5% for all federal employees. Working with other public service unions, the vpod/SSP says the government should now end its austerity policies towards its employees, particularly in the light of a CH Fr 5 billion surplus. The unions are worried that the government will use the surplus to cuts taxes and argue that federal workers haven't seen a real increase in pay since a 0.7% rise in 2014 and so a pay rise should be a priority.
The SGB trade union confederation and the vpod public services union have called for a general wage increase of between 1.5% and 2.0%. But the vpod also highlights the need to address the fall in real pay in the public services as well as the importance of ensuring higher pay for jobs dominated by women. Meanwhile the federal court has thrown out a challenge to a proposed minimum wage in the Neuenberg Canton, opening the way to implementation of an hourly minimum of CHFr 20 (€17.50).
(September 2016) The vpod/ssp public services union is joining others in the federal public sector to call for negotiations over pay increases in 2017. The unions have reacted to government figures showing that the budget outcome for 2016 will be a surplus rather than the forecast deficit and the unions argue that this means that the proposed pay freeze for 2017 needs to be withdrawn and a pay rise negotiated.