Swiss voters have rejected an increase in their annual paid holiday over fears it would put their economy at risk.
Polls closed last night on several national referendums, including one pushed by a union to raise the minimum holiday from four to six weeks.
Two-thirds of voters reportedly rejected the proposal, which would have brought the mountain nation in line with most other West European countries.
Known for their work ethic, the Swiss appeared to heed warnings from government and business that more vacation would damage their economy.
As Europeans struggle to control debt through layoffs, wage cuts and tax increases, campaign group Travail.Suisse argued more break time is needed because of workplace stress.
Many other Europeans get four weeks’ minimum.
The initiative was put forward by trade union Travail.Suisse, which argued that four weeks holiday was insufficient because the pressure of work had increased so much in recent decades, causing rising stress and health problems.
Swiss television said initial figures showed the proposal had been rejected by a clear 67 percent of voters.
Travail.Suisse said the referendum had taken place at a bad time due to serious economic concerns surrounding the euro zone crisis.
‘For many voters, it was understandable that current concerns about their own jobs took precedence over the long-term welfare of people and Swiss business,’ it said in a statement.
‘With their fear-mongering campaign, the opponents of the initiative played with the uncertainty of workers.’
The main employers’ association, which had lobbied hard against the proposal, welcomed the result.
‘The “no” to the holiday initiative means above all a “yes” to the maintenance of the competitiveness of Swiss companies and the securing of jobs,’ it said in a statement.
It had argued that longer holidays would hurt firms already battling to cope with the impact of the safe-haven franc that has soared since the financial crisis, driven in particular by investors fleeing the euro zone.
In other referendums held last night, voters in Zurich agreed to the creation of ‘sex boxes’ where prostitutes can work. In Geneva, residents voted to tighten restrictions on street protests.
In 2002, Swiss voters rejected a proposal to cut the working week to 36 hours from 42 hours.
Referendums are central to Switzerland’s political system of direct democracy, and have been held on topics ranging from health insurance to smoking bans.
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