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Swiss Industry Group President Says Minimum Wage Would Cost Jobs

June 21 (Bloomberg) -- Switzerland should reject a proposal to introduce a national minimum wage because companies would have to cut jobs to pay for the increased wage bill, Hans Hess, President of industry body Swissmem, said.

“When you just do what the initiative wants, a 4,000 franc ($4,313) monthly minimum wage, companies can’t afford that and jobs will be lost,” Hess said at a conference in Fribourg, about 160 kms (99 miles) drive from the capital Zurich.

Swiss workers cost 10 times more than their Romanian or Chinese counterparts, he said. Swiss unemployment rose to 3.2 percent in May from 3.1 percent in April. Euro-area unemployment increased to a record 12.2 percent in April.

Swissmem represents manufacturers including ABB Ltd., Sulzer AG and OC Oerlikon Corp. which accounted for 9.2 percent of Swiss gross domestic product in 2012 and about a third of exports, according to the lobby group’s website.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Winters in Zurich at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at

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