GENEVA - Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a proposed hourly minimum wage of US$25 (S$31)- which would have been the world's highest - in one of the planet's priciest nations, a polling agency said.
Only 23 percent of Swiss voters came out in favour of introducing a minimum wage in Switzerland so high it could pass for mid-management pay elsewhere, the gfs.bern polling institute said in a projection of Sunday's referendum results.
Voters also appeared likely to nix a multi-billion-dollar deal, a decade in the making, to buy fighter jets from Sweden, while they overwhelmingly supported measures to ban paedophiles from working with children.
Much of the national debate ahead of the referendums, which are held every three months in Switzerland as part of the country's direct democratic system, has focused on the pros and cons of introducing a minimum wage.
The "Decent Salary" initiative insists that at least 22 Swiss francs ($25, 18 euros) an hour, or 4,000 francs ($4,515, 3,280 euros) a month, is needed to get by in the wealthy Alpine nation.
Backers of the initiative want Switzerland to go from having no minimum wage to boasting the world's highest, far above the $7.25 in the United States, 9.43 euros in France, 5.05 euros in Spain and the recently agreed 8.50 euros in Germany, set to take effect next year.
- Threat to businesses -
But the initiative, which has drawn envious and incredulous attention from abroad, appeared sure to flop, with voters heeding warnings from opponents, including the government, that the sky-high minimum wage would deal a death blow to many businesses and would weaken Switzerland's healthy economy.
"This minimum wage would put jobs in danger and would make accessing the labour market even more difficult for youths and those with few qualifications," Bern has warned.