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10 March, 2015Around 12,000 men, women and children gathered in Bern, Switzerland on Saturday to mark International Women’s Day.
The demonstration march that started from Schützenmatte and continued to Parliament Square was spearheaded by Union Syndicale Suisse (USS) and Alliance F, uniting 48 organizations, including IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliate UNIA, towards a common goal for equal pay for women.
Under Swiss law enacted in 1981, men and women have the right to equal pay for work of equal value. Yet, 34 years have passed and still women earn 20 per cent less than men for doing the same job, for no other justifiable reason than because they are female.
According to UNIA, this inequality in pay not only affects women in Switzerland but also their families and the economy as well. Because of this injustice, each woman loses 677 Swiss Francs (US$ 680) a month, 8,000 Swiss Francs in a year (US$ 8,118) and 380,000 Swiss Francs (US$ 385,600) during her entire working life, which can be translated as outright gender discrimination.
Kathrin Bertschy, co-president of the Alliance F, said:
“Pay inequality persists throughout a lifetime; young women start their professional life with eight per cent lower salaries. But the pay inequality affects the entire economy when talented women leave the labour market because their skills are not remunerated fairly.”
Regula Bühlmann, USS National Secretary, added:
“When it comes to law enforcement, non-compulsory measures obviously aren’t working. We now need binding measures. We need pay equity for the paid and unpaid work, so that women once retired get a fair pension.”
International women’s day emerged at the beginning of the 20th century when the Socialist Party of America organized a strike demanding better pay and working conditions, as well as the right to vote, in New York City.