Rising prices: unions call for help

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Rising prices: unions call for relief for pensioners and low earners

The rise in prices following the war in Ukraine particularly hits low-income households. Travailsuisse is now demanding wage increases or tax breaks in an 18-point plan.

Twice as many women as men earn low wages. As a result, they are hit harder than average by rising prices. (icon image)

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The cost of living is also rising sharply in Switzerland due to rising consumer prices. This consequence of the war in Ukraine hits low-income workers and pensioners particularly hard. Because the percentage of the cost of living in relation to total income is significantly higher for these people, as the figures from the household budget survey of the Federal Statistical Office show:

Expenditure (in percentage) by income for housing, energy, transport, food, health insurance (basic insurance) and other health expenditure.

Expenditure (in percentage) by income for housing, energy, transport, food, health insurance (basic insurance) and other health expenditure.

Federal Statistics Bureau

The umbrella organization of Travailsuisse employees now wants to act against this price increase. On Thursday, he presented to the media in Bern an 18-point plan to alleviate pensions and low wages. The central demands are structural wage increases (especially in sectors with a high proportion of women), protection of pensions against inflationary devaluation, measures to reduce rents and bonuses and tax breaks for employees.

Travailsuisse warns of cost shock

Inflation is not always the same, said Thomas Bauer, head of economic policy at Travailsuisse. Low-income households are particularly affected by inflation. Their spending would increase by 4-5% compared to high-income households, where the increase would be only 1.7%. In addition, there would be an increase in health insurance premiums and rents. There is a risk of a real cost shock for low-income earners and retirees. Thomas Bauer:

“It is a threat to social peace in Switzerland.”

The Syna union, affiliated to Travailsuisse, is also concerned with securing purchasing power. “For low-wage workers, this year we need salary increases that go well beyond inflation,” said Claudia Stöckli, member of the executive board.

SP and Greens with similar plans

She also sees a structural problem of low pay – caused by geographic and gender factors as well as business structures. According to Claudia Stöckli, this should also no longer be tolerated politically: “Measures are needed so that employees throughout Switzerland have the same chances of decent wages.” This is all the more urgent given the rise in inflation.

The demands of Travailsuisse and Syna join the proposals made recently by the PS and the Greens. The Greens are calling for an energy bonus for low-income households and a reduction in the price of public transport. With its “Federal check”, the SP demands a reduction in contributions and an automatic system of indexation to the cost of living in order to secure pensions.

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