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Swiss Women Take To The Streets In Purple To Protest Gender Pay Gap

Swiss women take to the streets in purple to protest gender pay gap

Thousands of women took to the streets across Switzerland yesterday to protest the “scandalous” gender pay gap that currently exists in the country.

The mass demonstrations were sparked by a recent survey which found women earn a fifth less than their male counterparts in the modern European country.

Country falling behind on pay parity

Unions and workers’ advocacy groups say Switzerland is falling behind other highly developed, affluent and progressive countries when it comes to pay parity.

Despite having one of the largest proportions of women in the workforce of all of Europe, on average they earn 20 per cent less than men.

And even those with equal qualifications still earn eight per cent less.

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The protests

Protest organisers called on women to abandon their jobs and housework for the day to join in the demonstrations.

Those who couldn’t take the full day off work, were urged to leave by 3.24 pm.

“After that, women work for free,” said Anne Fritz, the main organiser of the day of action.

A number of events were planned for Friday, including picnics, pram marches to whistle concerts.

Organisers wanted women to wear purple and join demonstrations in several cities, including one in front of the government headquarters in Bern.

In Lausanne, women rang the cathedral bells, which had been lit up purple.

Others took part in a huge breakfast event, blocking traffic on one of the town’s main bridges.

Giant pink clitoris

Protesters hung off a giant pink clitoris in Zurich, while in Basel they projected the feminist fist symbol on to a skyscraper in the city.

In Bern, politicians stopped work for 15 minutes to mark the occasion, with many MPs wore purple or feminist badges.

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Government to blame

Despite the support of many in the government, the protesters blame their political leaders for failing to act to end pay inequality.

An new law introduced last year which would have seen more oversight over salary distribution was watered down – so that it only applied to companies with more than 100 employees, which affected fewer than one per cent of employees.

It failed to include penalties for persistent gender pay gap offenders, the vast majority from small companies.

“The wage divergences between women and men have become entrenched,” a spokesperson from the union federation said.

“It is scandalous that women, who have now surpassed men in education, still earn about a fifth less than men.”

Same job should attract same pay

Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from Harassment Claims said the same job should attract the same pay, regardless of the worker’s gender.

“The days of women earning less than men for doing the same work are over,” he said.

“There is no excuse for a gender pay gap in any industry in any country – especially here in Australia – where, unfortunately, we still have a way to go to achieve equality.

“It’s simple – if someone is doing the same job, they should be paid the same wage.”

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