The Swiss people are showing that citizens can organize and take action to address growing income inequality by placing restrictions and caps on executive salaries.
Since the 2008 global financial crises Swiss citizens have set their sights on excessive corporate pay and rising income inequality.
public activism by the Swiss people on executive pay has forced two
referendums and efforts are underway to force a third referendum. Under
Swiss law citizens are able to organize popular initiatives whereby the
Swiss Parliament must hold a referendum on any initiative that has
gathered more than 100,000 signatures.
In March 2013 the Swiss voted overwhelmingly to pass some of the strictest controls on executive pay, requiring that public company shareholders vote
on compensation for executives.
In November 2013 the Swiss people will get a vote on another proposal to to cap and limit executive pay. The 1:12 initiative
will limit executive pay to no more than 12 times the salary of the
lowest paid worker. Compare that to the USA which has among the highest
levels of income inequality in the world with a CEO to worker pay ratio
of 185:1 and here in Australia where the CEO to worker pay ratio is 100:1
Unsurprisingly, corporations and business groups oppose the Swiss 1: 12 initiative claiming that it will abolish prosperity
and is an attack on freedom. Global multinational corporations like
GlencoreXstrata threaten to move their headquarters out of Switzerland
if the proposal is passed.
Now Swiss citizens are trying to establish a guaranteed basic income for all citizens.
Friday Swiss citizen activists submitted over 130,000 signatures to the
Swiss Parliament- enough to call a vote over whether or not to approve
the proposal- to create a law guaranteeing all Swiss nationals a
guaranteed basic income of around $2800 per month. 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.)