A resounding majority of Swiss voters approved a constitutional amendment to improve wages and conditions in the care sector to show appreciation for workers’ sacrifice during the pandemic and to meet the growing demand for care workers.
The country’s nurses’ association and trade unions supported the effort, as the pandemic exposed the need for increased collective bargaining, more staff in hospitals and care homes as well as more family-friendly conditions in the health sector.
The advocates said these measures are necessary to prevent the massive turnover rate in care.
Regarding next steps, Unia, Switzerland’s largest union, said that “the ball is now in the court of the Federal Council and parliament: they must ensure fair funding of care, good working conditions and more staff to ensure quality care.”
The country’s health minister has pledged his agency will swiftly present proposals for the implementation the initiative.
“Last year, we clapped for care workers to lift their spirits, but this week, the Swiss have voted to lift something more: workers’ wages and conditions,” said UNI Global Union’s General Secretary Christy Hoffman. “Voters in every part of the country came together in this historic vote to say that care workers are essential–that these workers deserve essential rights and a lasting dignity guaranteed through adequate financial support, more respect for their rights and better conditions overall. Other governments should seize this moment to lift up care workers.”