BLOG: What is the Global Living Wage Initiative?

By Graham Griffiths, Living Wage Foundation.

The idea that underpins the modern campaign for the Living Wage is that all workers should earn a wage that takes account of the costs and pressures that they face in their everyday lives. Interest in the Global Living Wage has seen significant growth in recent years. Globalisation has enabled increasingly rapid development in many economies, but unfortunately this hasn't resulted in higher wage levels for all workers. Instead, many countries have seen a widening chasm between the rich and the poor, with over 800 million workers unable to meet the basic costs of living.

Since 2015 the Living Wage Foundation coordinated an extensive process of consultation with interested parties in a number of countries to build consensus in global thinking about how Living Wages are calculated and put into practice. The process resulted in broad support for the idea of achieving greater international co-ordination in thought and action on the Living Wage. As a first step, a set of six principles were collaboratively developed to inform thinking and campaigning on the Living Wage by supportive groups around the world.

The principles of a Global Living Wage are:

  1. A Living Wage should be calculated by reference to the income an individual needs to earn in order to live a decent life (where basic standards of living are met) and to participate fully in society
  2. The Living Wage for any country and location should be set by reference to local living standards and needs
  3. The Living Wage should be set in a transparent way, independent of control or manipulation by government, employers or other parties
  4. A Living Wage should be sufficient to pay for a locally agreed basket of goods, which is likely to include food, housing, utilities, transport, a degree of leisure and potentially education, health insurance, childcare, servicing debt and savings. A Living Wage is likely to include support for family members as needed in the local context
  5. A Living Wage should be paid to all employees over a locally agreed minimum working age
  6. A Living Wage should be paid voluntarily by employers

We have been working with partner organisations in Canada, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong and South Africa with the intention of forming a strong network of national accreditation bodies. To build on the six principles, we have been developing a set of criteria that would tie together Living Wage accreditation around the world and safeguard the values of the movement.

Consistency in the rate calculation, implementation, good practices and principles will support our collective ability to convene and influence multi-national employers to take a truly global position on paying the Living Wage to all staff, lifting millions of workers out of poverty.



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