While the United States suffers the greatest income inequality in the developed world, with a CEO to worker pay ratio of 185 to 1, Switzerland is taking the lead in dealing with their lesser, but still real issue with income inequality.
Switzerland recently passed one of the world’s strictest measures to deal with executive pay, requiring that public company shareholders vote on compensation for executives. The initiative, which was started by Thomas Minder in 2006, overcame high-profile opposition to become law in early March.
However, the Swiss did not stop there. On November 24, a popular vote will take place on another issue: the 1:12 Initiative, which has heavy support from the country’s Social Democrats. This grassroots campaign seeks to cap executive pay at 12x that of a company’s lowest paid worker. As one would expect, there is heavy opposition to the 1:12 initiative. SwissHoldings, an organization that touts that it “stands for favorable business conditions for multinational enterprises in Switzerland,” opposes the 1:12 initiative, claiming that it “abolishes prosperity,” and an “attack on freedom.” They go on to claim that it is a “frontal attack on prosperity and “security” and that it’s “chaos” that “leads to more bureaucracy.”
GlencoreXstrata CEO Ivan Glasenberg has said that if the measure passes, he will consider moving his company out of the country. Where have we heard this kind of drivel before? Let me think…
While there is heavy opposition from corporations and the government, support for the initiative seems to be about equal. A recent poll conducted in September found that 35.5% of respondents said they would vote for the 1:12 initiative, and 37.7% said they would vote against it. It will be a tough fight for both sides to win over the undecided voters on the issue and only time will tell, once November 24 rolls around.
As if that was not enough, on Friday a petition was submitted in which 120,000 residents — enough to call a vote over whether or not to approve the proposal — demanded that the government ensure a minimum income of 2,500 Swiss francs (or $2800) for all adults in the country. In a public display of support, advocates of the measure tipped over a truck full of 8 million 5-cent coins (one for each citizen of the country.)
That’s a powerful message! A vote on the measure could come up as early as this year, Fingers crossed, you socialist bastards!