Life is hard, even in Switzerland

This week is horrible for me financially. I have absolutely no work hours! I have an hourly contract so it means that if there is no work, then there is no pay.

I have been working in my new job for about 9 months now but because my contract is just 40%, I am up to this point not eligible to be included in the company pension. So today I told myself to go and open a Freizugigkeit Konto. (This is an account where my money from my previous companies will be transferred to since my company does not accept me yet in their pension plan account).

My bank is Postfinance and the nearest office / branch from me is in Baden. So at about past 1 in the afternoon, I board the bus to the city. Because the sun shines, I thought that the weather will be tolerable. (By that I meant not so cold.) I just wore a thin pullover, ripped jeans and a leather jacket. Yeah, I told myself I’m gonna do some photo shoot today! 😛

So anyway, I went to the said branch and my oh my, I read a signage posted on the door that from the first day of this month, they would only be accepting clients who have previously called and was given an schedule. The door was closed and you should only ring the bell IF you have a schedule. Of course I did not know this ‘call before you come’ policy and I was a bit agitated. In Switzerland, a no means no. If they say you SHOULD not ring the bell if you do not satisfy the requirements, then you better really not push your luck.

I know absolutely the reason for this new rule. It is because they are cutting manpower and trimming their company expenses. They promote that everything be done online so that of course they do not need much manpower and space to rent anymore. I mean this is a pretty big, Swiss bank and is rich in assets and still they’d cut corners? I was very disappointed really. This is this typical I-just-care-about-the-profit-at-the-end-of-the-year kind of thing.

This is also quite typical nowadays in Switzerland. They tighten and press down the costs for manpower to the point that most companies only hire hourly contract workers like me. When one has a hourly contract, the legal vacation days are not paid. So if you do nto work, you are not paid.

When you have a regular contract, you have a fixed income for the month and you get an extra pay / vacation if you worked for more than your contract hours. In the hourly contract, you get a fixed amount per hour and that includes everything : 13th month pay and vacation days. It would look big on paper but if you look closely, the base pay is really very small.

People always imagine that the people in Switzerland have it real good. I also thought so before.

Well, before I met people who are laden with insurance debts.

Insurance is compulsory and a lot of families cannot afford to pay their monthly dues. I have just read in a national newspaper how young people, at the age of 18, carry 20,000-50,000 chf debts already because their parents could not afford to pay the insurance. Once they turn 18, the debts are transferred to their names and is therefore their responsibility.

At first, I could not really believe the article. I thought I misunderstood. Afterall, German is not even my second langauge. There is absolutely no way that people cannot pay their monthly insurance, I thought. Then a Swiss coworker explained that it is becoming more normal because income has long been not par with the cost of living.

Then I remember that 5 years ago, I only paid 75chf monthly for my insurance, now it is 240 chf. In 5 years. Multiply that into 4 for a typical family.

Then there are people who cannot pay their taxes. This one I can thoroughly understand because I can feel this burden myself. I have a coworker who pays 10,000 chf for taxes because they do not have child and both of them work 100%

You know, you just save and save and save the whole year just so so can give it all to the taxman or woman..


We were discussing during lunch time one day about how we people living in Switzerland are slaves. That we need to work and work and work just so we can put a roof over our head and food on our table. Then one worker said that at least life is secure in Switzerland.

Then I thought of the slaves in plantations before. They were also secure. They had food on the table, and when they were old, there was a house where they can die. But then, their whole lives they needed to work even if they liked it or not.

There is not much difference with the modern slavery. We just think that we are free but can we really do what we want to do? Can we just not pay our taxes and get away with it like its nothing? Can we just opt out not having an insurance? Can we just say f*** off I will not be working today and still have our food on our table, roof over our heads?

Just some thoughts I’ve been pondering on.

But yes, it can indeed be a sweeter life here than say, in some poor country in Asia or Africa. Here, the state takes care of you. You get a support if you loses your job. By this, you get 80% from your last job’s salary and you can rely on this money for two years.

Once the two years has passed and you still did not get a job, then you will go to the social help. They will give you enough money to be able to live.

Of course it is really just enough and you will feel poor. You can’t afford vacations, nice things, a good apartment. Since you are living from the taxes that other people pay, you will be ashamed to broadcast that you are in social help. There is this social stigma here for people living in social help. I remember that there was a big talk in my region just last year because a list of social help recipients was made public by mistake. One thing more, once you are back again on your feet and has a job, the state will take back every single cent that it has given you the whole time. Yup, no free things here.

But still it is secure, I guess. Though I will not want to be working my hard job until my back ache and my bones crack.

There must be a better way.

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