Public service sector under customer pressure
Voters on Sunday decide on a proposal by consumer groups to boost basic services of state-owned companies, including a cap on top manager salaries and a review of strategic business objectives.
The outcome of the ballot is expected to be close, despite broad opposition by all major political parties, the government as well as the business community and the trade unions.
The initiative was launched by four consumer magazines following complaints about perceived dropping standards notably by the Federal Railways, the Post Office and the Swisscom telecom provider.
The companies, with about 117,000 employees, have come under pressure in a partly liberalised market over the years.
The initiative wants to ban basic service providers from seeking to make a profit and effectively calls for an end to cross-subsidies.
It also aims to ensure that top salaries and fees of their senior managers do not exceed those of employees of the federal administration, including government ministers.
However, opponents of the initiative argue the stated aim of the initiative is counterproductive as it could jeopardise the future of these companies.
Transport Minister Doris Leuthard warned that limiting the entrepreneurial freedom of public sector firms could lead to lower revenue and further weaken services across the country.
Experts say the initiative has struck a chord with many citizens, while politicians have underestimated the extent of the customer dissatisfaction.
The proposal had no support at all in either of the two parliamentary chambers last year.
However, opinion polls in April saw the initiative winning a majority. Support later began to shrink considerably following a massive campaign by opponents.
The initiative was launched in 2012 and collected 104,000 signatures within 18 months.
June 5 voteBeside the initiative to boost public service companies there are two other proposals to be decided.A proposal to introduce an unconditional basic income and a plan to provide extra tax funds to road transport.Two decisions by parliament are also at stake. A reform of the asylum laws and a law on the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
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