BERNE — Switzerland will hold a vote on whether to introduce a basic income for all adults, in a further sign of growing public activism over pay inequality since the financial crisis.
A grassroots committee is calling for all adults in Switzerland to receive an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs — about $2,800 — per month from the state, with the aim of providing a financial safety net for the population.
Organizers submitted more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on Friday and tipped a truckload of 8 million five-cent coins outside the parliament building in Bern, one for each person living in Switzerland.
Under Swiss law, citizens can organize popular initiatives that allow the channeling of public anger into direct political action. The country usually holds several referenda a year.
8 million five-cent coins, representing every person living in Switzerland, were dumped from a truck in Bern by the committee that pushed for a vote on giving all adults a basic income.
In March, Swiss voters backed some of the world’s strictest controls on executive pay, forcing public companies to give shareholders a binding vote on compensation.
A separate proposal to limit monthly executive pay to no more than what the company’s lowest-paid staff earn in a year, the so-called 1:12 initiative, faces a popular vote on Nov. 24.
The initiative’s organizing committee said the basic income could partly be financed through money from social insurance systems in Switzerland.
The timing of the vote has yet to be announced, pending official guidance from the government.
Switzerland has recently passed some of the strictest laws on executive pay in the world, and will vote in November on a 1:12 initiative, which would cap executive pay at only 12 times the amount of a company’s lowest paid employee. No date has been set for the guaranteed income referendum yet.