Swiss voters say no to six weeks holiday

Swiss voters say no to six weeks holiday

Swiss voters say no to six weeks holiday

A man casts his vote in Carouge Switzerland, on March 11. Swiss voters reject proposal to raise holidays to six weeks, but say yes to ‘sex boxes’ for prostitutes. AP photo

Swiss voters rejected a proposal to increase employees’ annual minimum paid holiday entitlement from four to six weeks on March 11 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, Reuters reported.

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 eurozone crisis. “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.

Yes to ‘Sex boxes’

In other referendums, voters in Zurich agreed to the creation of “sex boxes” where prostitutes can work. The plan would see the creation of special parking spaces with walls between them where sex workers can ply their trade away from suburban areas in Switzerland’s biggest city, BBC reported.

Meanwhile in Geneva, home to the European U.N. headquarters and frequent demonstrations, voters passed tighter restrictions on demonstrations and steep fines of up to 100,000 francs on protesters who do not obtain prior permission or adhere to rules, The Associated Press reported. A U.N. official tasked with upholding people’s right to gather peacefully had cautioned that the measure would “unduly restrict” free speech.