Swiss voters reject CEO pay limit

Public anger wasn't enough to get voters to curb CEO pay.

In the United States, CEOs are paid 273 times more than the average worker . The gap isn't quite as wide in Switzerland -- around 43-to-1 -- but even those revelations of CEO pay earlier this year led to public anger over the wage disparity.

Enough so that Switzerland voted yesterday to do something about it. But the measure, called the 1:12 initiative -- which would have imposed a 12-to-1 maximum wage on CEOs -- was rejected 65 percent to 35 percent.

Critics of the initiative said that reining in CEO pay would hurt tax revenues for the traditionally business-friendly country and put the country at an economic disadvantage in the global economy, AFP reports

Swiss voters were clearly convinced, or at least thought a 12-to-1 wage limit was too far to the other extreme. But it would have made for a fascinating economic experiment and might have inspired other countries to adopt similar measures (it might anyway, despite the defeat). 

But if you're looking for something similar in the United States, don't count on it. Just trying to get companies to disclose the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay is seeing pushback.

Even if Switzerland didn't pass this pay wage initiative, it isn't the first time Swiss voters decided on compensation laws for company executives this year. In March, Swiss voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative that curbed compensation for executives, including a ban on "golden parachutes," or compensation for upper executives if employment is terminated.

Photo: Flickr/jusostgallen

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