Imogen Foulkes
News, Geneva

The Geneva inscription is home to some of the richest organizations and individuals, but there are also food banks.

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Switzerland is a very rich country. But with a population of 8.5 million, about 600,000 people are poor. It’s not bullshit.

Charly Hernandez
Charité Paris du Coeur

4,000 francs a month, isn’t that too much?

It may seem a lot, but only if you don’t live in Geneva, Charly says.

A single room costs 1000 francs per month, if you can survive on 500 francs per month for food, you are a very good administrator, the health insurance is 550 francs per month per person. If you have a family with two children, you have a hard time making ends meet.


Signing the photo of Living in Geneva is expensive and even the volunteers of the food bank are struggling to make ends meet.

The new minimum wage will be important for many people, such as Ingrid, who have gone to the food bank.

At the end of the month my pockets are empty, she says. That [food bank] was great, because you have a week’s supply of food. A week’s relief.

Even some volunteers, like Laura, think Geneva is not an easy way to travel. With a nurse’s wage, she can’t afford a place in the city.

I’d live in a very small place, in the same room. So I still live with my family. I’m 26 years old, she says.

Monthly salary in euros...

Who’s paying?

Companies offering less than 23 francs per hour now have to increase the wages of their employees. He fears that Vincent Soubiliya of the Chamber of Commerce in Geneva would do more harm than good if he had to bear these new costs amidst the Covida pandemic and a sharp drop in profits.

Hotels, restaurants, these are sectors that have already had serious problems due to the pandemic, he said. This could jeopardise the existence of these sectors.

The owner of a restaurant, Stefano Fanari, said on Swiss television that he thought he could not pay the bill. As a chef, his monthly salary averages between 5,000 and 6,000 Swiss francs per month.

How can I continue if I have to pay so much for the dishwasher?

Should I reduce his hours? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if someone earns 4000 euros a month. But there comes a point when we can’t afford it anymore. I made a donation. I work here 12 hours a day. What do you want me to do?

  • What could be the lowest salary level?
  • The Spanish minimum wage will increase by 22

What happens now?

The minimum wage was not introduced in Geneva because it was introduced by the government, but because the citizens of Geneva presented it as a citizens’ initiative. They have collected enough signatures to hold a referendum on the subject, and on 27 March they will hold a referendum on the subject. In September, voters answered yes – from 58% to 42%.

The Swiss system of direct democracy means that the voters have the last word, so the minimum wage is now mandatory.


Signature under the photo. There are concerns about the restaurant sector with a new salary.

The Swiss often vote very cautiously when it comes to spending public money. But on the same day, they supported the introduction of two weeks of paid paternity leave throughout the country.

For Charly Hernandez, these measures are a positive sign that people in this largely prosperous country care about each other, especially in these difficult times.

They voted for it, and I’m glad they did. We have a very direct democracy, which is great, but what many people don’t know is that most people don’t get initiatives.

For once, things get approved, so I think it looks better… Slowly good, but it’s the Swiss rhythm.

The next test for voters will take place at the end of this month, when the Swiss vote on a responsible economic initiative.

This means that Swiss-based companies take legal and financial responsibility for human rights and environmental violations directly in their supply chains around the world.

Yeah, it could cost a lot more than the minimum wage in Geneva.

Other stories from our Swiss correspondent

Read more about this story

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