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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Geneva residents will have to do all their shopping before 6 pm.
Shops in Geneva will not be allowed to stay open until 7 om on Saturdays. Photo by Axel Heimken / AFP)

Most Swiss politicians welcome the outcome of Covid law referendum

The majority of political parties, as well as the economic sector, expressed their relief and satisfaction over the results of Sunday’s referendum, when 62 percent of Swiss voters backed the government’s stance on managing the pandemic, particularly in regards to the Covid certificates.

In a statement echoed by most other political groups, Charles Juillard, vice-president of the Center Party, said that “The population continues to clearly support the measures chosen by the Federal Council and the Parliament”.

Read our article today about how the supporters and opponents of the law reacted to the referendum results.

READ MORE: Swiss voters back Covid pass law

First Omicron case detected in Switzerland

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on Sunday night that the first probable case of the Omicron variant — the new Covid strain discovered in parts of Africa that is already present in several European countries — was found in Switzerland in a person who returned from South Africa about a week ago.

“Sequencing will bring certainties in the days to come”, FOPH said.

READ MORE: Omicron variant poses ‘high to very high’ risk to Europe: EU health agency

Covid vaccine would have prevented 2,600 deaths in Switzerland

The regional office of World Health Organisation (WHO) has published research estimating the number of lives saved by coronavirus vaccination in various European countries.

In Switzerland, that number, for the period from December 2020 until now, is 2,643 —211 among those aged 60-69, 495 among people 70-79, and 1,937 among the elderly aged 80 and over.

“What this study shows is that vaccines do what they promise, which is to save lives, offering very high protection against severe forms and death”. said Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe

This link shows statistics for Switzerland and other European countries.

Majority of Swiss are in favour of compulsory vaccination

Making Covid vaccines obligatory is a hot-button topic, with Austria already being the first western country to mandate the vaccine from February 2022.

Although this move is not planned for Switzerland for the time being, a poll published in Swiss media shows that 53.1 percent of the population is in favour of compulsory vaccination, while 45.1 percent support confinement for the unvaccinated.

Vaccination mandate for certain sectors — including healthcare — meets with an even higher approval rate of 69 percent.

However, vast majority of respondents — 78.2 percent — are against new confinement of the entire population.

READ MORE: Will Switzerland make the Covid vaccine compulsory?

Geneva refuses to extend store openings on Saturdays

One of the issues voted in Geneva’s cantonal referendum on Sunday was whether to allow shops to stay open until 7 pm on Saturdays — one hour longer than currently

More than 53 percent of Genevans, however, heeded the calls of trade unions and left parties to reject this proposal in order to protect people in retail industry from working extra hours.

“We are very happy. Genevans understood that this was for the benefit of employees”, said Davide De Filippo, president of Geneva Union Action Community.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Weather is finally becoming more 'reasonable', salaries are set to slightly increase in 2023, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Monday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

It is finally raining in Switzerland, but is this enough?

After weeks of hot and dry weather, rain fell on many parts of Switzerland yesterday. This wet trend is expected to continue today, strengthening on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Nicolas Borgognon, a meteorologist at MeteoNews.

However, while it provides some relief for agriculture and nature in general, it is not certain whether the amount of rain will be sufficient to counteract the effects of drought that has impacted much of Switzerland.

“For that, it would take regular rain of low to moderate intensity, lasting at least 48 hours”, Borgognon said. “And at the moment, this is not yet envisaged”.

Gap between high and low salaries is growing

A new study into income disparity carried out by Unia labour union shows that in 2021, executives of 43 largest Swiss companies — including such giants as Roche, UBS, and Nestlé — earned an average of 141 times more than their lowest-paid employees.

While salaries of the lowest paid employees grew by only 0.5 percent between 2016 and 2020 (the last year for which official data is available), for the higher-ups the increase was 4 percent.

The union is callling for general raises, with the money taken away from shareholders and given to the employees instead.

“In this period marked by inflation and a possible spike in health insurance premiums, increases are becoming urgent”, Unia added.

But here’s also good news on the salary front…

Next year, wages are expected to increase by 2.2 percent on average

A survey by the KOF Economic Research Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich forecasts the average salary increase of 2.2 percent in 2023 — the largest one in 22 years.

The biggest increases — about 4.4 percent — will be in the restaurant and hotel industry, the sector that is among the most impacted by staff shortages.  

According to Valentin Vogt, president of the Swiss Employers’ Association, many companies have drawn on their reserves during the Covid pandemic, and do not have the financial capacity for higher increases.

READ: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

Swiss schools don’t have enough teachers

As classes resume this week in many parts of Switzerland, a number of schools in various cantons are worried about scarcity of teachers.

According to education officials, this shortage is “more serious than ever”, driven mainly by  many teachers “feeling overwhelmed” by all the demands and pressure, in addition to actual teaching, including too many administrative tasks.

Added to this is the effort required to integrate children from Ukraine into local schools, which further complicates the already tense situation.

READ MORE : Why teachers in Swiss schools are worried about falling education standards

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]