Company bosses waive part of their wages in the crisis

The Corona crisis is taking its toll on companies and, above all, on employees: stores and some factories remain closed, short-time work is being introduced in many places and layoffs are threatened. In solidarity, the bosses of some companies are now foregoing part of their wages.


ABB has caused a stir: The bosses of the technology group announced on Monday that they will voluntarily forego 10 percent of their salaries with immediate effect for the duration of the crisis. Group CEO Björn Rosengren, who took the helm at ABB at the beginning of March, wants to set a "sign of solidarity," as he explained.

"We must stay strong together - for ABB and our company," was Rosengren's message. The money saved through the salary reduction should help cushion the impact of the coronavirus crisis. ABB expects the pandemic to have a significant impact on the first quarter of 2020.

Rosengren can afford the cutbacks. The target value defined by ABB in its annual report on total compensation is just under CHF 6 million for the current year. However, the actual salary paid out may deviate from this target, and the planned salary sacrifice is also not included in this calculation.

A few days before ABB, TX Group announced that its bosses would forego money. The managing directors of the four TX companies Tamedia, Goldbach, 20 Minuten and TX Markets had decided to waive any claim from the "corporate management profit-sharing program" for the current year, it said. In mid-March, the media group had applied for short-time work for the workforce.


Swissport chief halved

After ABB and the TX Group, the heads of other companies are now following suit: The board members and managers of the traditional Schaffhausen-based company Georg Fischer also want to temporarily waive 10 to 20 percent of their fixed compensation out of solidarity. The money thus released is to be paid to employees from countries with poorly developed social security systems.

Georg Fischer has responded to the current poor order situation by temporarily closing some or all of its plants in Europe and introducing short-time working wherever possible. This also affects production facilities in Switzerland, especially those in Ticino.

At solar supplier Meyer Burger, whose business was already sluggish before the Corona crisis, the workforce in Thun and Hauterive in Neuchâtel will be working short-time from next week. The bosses will immediately forego 15 percent of their salaries. And at Zehnder Group, which specializes in indoor climate systems, management salaries will be cut by 10 percent, while at APG the cut will be as much as 20 percent.

The head of airport services provider Swissport, Eric Born, is prepared to make even more significant cuts. Born wants to give up 50 percent of his pay, as he explained in a TV interview. At the airports, the business situation is so critical that Swissport has ordered the layoff of around 60 percent of its staff by the end of April.


Will the big banks follow?

In the coming days, other company bosses are likely to follow ABB's example. While it is still too early to talk about bonuses, said, for example, the new head of the major bank Credit Suisse Thomas Gottstein in the business program Eco of SRF. "But we are certainly thinking along the lines that we also want to show solidarity."

At UBS, CEO Sergio Ermotti, who will step down in November, made it public that he will donate one million francs in his home canton of Ticino. The bank also plans to donate 30 million US dollars to global and local COVID 19 projects.

However, a UBS spokeswoman left it open at AWP's request whether the largest Swiss bank will also waive its bonus: It is still far too early to make statements on the assessment of bonuses for 2020, she said. This would depend on the course of the financial year and market developments. In the last financial year, Ermotti collected a double-digit million salary - as did his counterpart at Credit Suisse at the time, the resigned Tidjane Thiam. (SDA)

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