End Corporate Greed: The World Needs a Pay Rise

Posted on October 03, 2017 at 12:20 PM

Sharan Burrow, ITUC - Sharan Burrow addresses BDC 2017
Sharan Burrow, ITUC
Sharan Burrow addresses BDC 2017

To mark World Day for Decent Work Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says its time to end corporate greed and raise wages globally

The global economic model has failed working people. It is driven by corporate greed and is working against sustainable development. It is time to change the rules and the governments who signed up to act on the Sustainable Development Goals need to do just that.

In fact 85 per cent of people want the rules of the global economy rewritten.

This is not surprising when you consider that the global workforce is in trouble. Only 60 per cent of the workforce around the world is in formal employment, and more than half of these workers are in precarious or insecure and often unsafe work.

Forty per cent of workers are struggling to survive in the informal economy with no minimum wages, no rights and no social protection.

In the last five years, 89 million people have experienced modern slavery.

Tragically, both informal work and modern slavery or forced work are increasing in our global supply chains.

The scandal gets worse when you consider that the world has seen its wealth increase threefold in the last 30 years in terms of GDP growth, yet labour’s income share has slumped with low wages, insecure and often unsafe work dominating global trade.

This is a model of inequality by design.

The G20 (including the EU) have agreed that: “Violations of decent work and fundamental principles and rights at work cannot be part of the competition.” 

Similarly, they declared that minimum wages are a foundation for decent work and that they must be set at a level that guarantees decent standards of living for workers and their families, stating that: “Wages should take into account the needs of workers and their families, the cost of living and economic factors.”

In this respect, they state that minimum wage legislation and collective bargaining in particular, can set income floors to reduce income inequality, eliminate poverty wages and achieve sustainable wage growth.

When 84 percent of the world's people say the minimum wage is not enough to live on we know governments must turn minimum wages from being a hunger wage to a wage on which people can live.

Inequality is at historic levels yet the remedy is clear - a living wage, collective bargaining and social protection with an unequivocal guarantee of freedom of association.

Governments must act on Sustainable Development Goal 1 to end poverty, Goal 8 on decent work and Goal 5 on gender equality, if global inequality is to be reduced.

The ITUCcampaign for wage rises is founded on the demand for a minimum living wage with collective bargaining rights and universal social protection. These must be wages on which a worker and his or her family can live with dignity.   

They must be evidence-based against the cost of basic goods and services and should be underpinned by universal social protection.

And while freedom of association and collective bargaining is under threat around the world, it is collective bargaining that is essential to go beyond a living wage floor and restore shared prosperity.

Asia fights for +50 is the union campaign in the poorest of supply chain countries where it would take only an increase of US$50 a month to give people the hope of a minimum wage that is a living wage. When major corporations are earning up to US$17,000 profit for every supply-chain worker this would barely reduce their profits.

The ITUC has exposed the Greedy 10, a shortlist of ten companies who exploit the hidden workers who they rely on for their massive profits. From Samsung to HP, Nestle to McDonalds, an increase of just $600 a year for all their supply chain workers would barely register in their billion dollar profits.

The Greedy 10


100% Africa is a campaign to demand both human value and the dignity of a minimum living wage.

In Latin America, Bridge the Gap, demands that poverty wages based on inadequate food baskets must be increased to minimum living wages, while Europe Needs a Pay Rise

is the ETUC campaign to ensure all workers are part of the economic recovery after the financial crisis.

And companies must be held to account. They cannot bargain fairly in the home countries and not in other countries where they operate or exploit workers through their supply chains.

On October 7 we mark World Day for Decent Work. In every corner of the globe the call is the same. End corporate greed: the world needs a pay rise.





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