18 Living wage benchmarks underway, criteria to be embedded in standards

Cocoa Ivory Coast © UTZ CERTIFIED

The Global Living Wage Coalition brings together Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA), Social Accountability International (SAI), UTZ Certified, and the ISEAL Alliance in a shared mission to see continuous improvements in workers’ wages in the farms, factories and supply chains participating in their respective certification systems and beyond, with the long term goal for workers to be paid a living wage. Through this significant collaborative effort, the Coalition hopes to see standards systems become agents of structural change in supply chains.

The Coalition’s progress to date

One of the objectives of the Coalition was to develop a public manual for calculating rigorous, defendable urban and rural living wage benchmarks and assessing current wage gaps. Using a robust methodology, living wage experts Richard and Martha Anker have now created this manual which will be made available in 2016. The Coalition has also trained 20 researchers in three training events in Turkey, China and Costa Rica this year. These trained researchers will now undertake the task of carrying out at least one living wage benchmark study each. 18 benchmark and prevailing wage studies are currently in progress and 3 more are set to begin soon (alongside 4 pilot studies already completed), in the following countries: Brazil, Ethiopia, China (5 locations), Bangladesh, Tanzania, India (2 locations), Nicaragua, Ecuador, Vietnam (2 locations), Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mexico, India, Costa Rica and Rwanda.

Collaboration, partnerships and funding in the business sector

The Coalition has also gained traction amongst the business world. Some companies have invested or pledged funds for benchmarking and intend to use benchmarks to raise wages in their facilities. Additional companies have expressed interest in future benchmarks and collaboration. This shows company demand for incorporating living wage into their supply chains.

“Our aim is to set a good example by applying a state-of-the-art living wage concept within sustainability standards. We hope that this new cooperation on living wage will encourage businesses, governments, and others to use the concept of living wage to shape discussions about worker needs and to push up wage levels in a variety of sectors in which these standards systems work,” said the Coalition’s coordinator, Michelle Bhattacharyya.

What’s next for the Coalition in 2016?

The Coalition has been preparing common auditor guidance (aligned with the Anker methodology) in order to equip auditors with the tools needed for effective implementation of living wage criteria embedded in their respective standards. This work is set to be completed in 2016, alongside trainings and the development of standard-specific guidance.

2016 will also be the year when the 21 benchmark reports are released to the public. Lastly, the Coalition is looking forward to sustaining and building new partnerships to further their aim of engaging with local and international organisations as well as supply chain partners to employ the living wage concept in wage dialogues. Many organisations have expressed interest in future collaboration and the Coalition is looking forward to developing these partnerships in the next year.

To hear about the work of the Coalition and how the benchmarks are being used, watch our webinar on the subject here.   

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The work of the Global Living Wage Coalition is supported in part by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by the six members of the Coalition and their partners.

To download the four pilot benchmark studies in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and the Dominican Republic click on the links at the top left of this story.

For more information on the Coalition or to find out how you can get involved and support or use the benchmarks, visit www.globallivingwage.org or write to the Global Living Wage Coalition’s coordinator at michelle.bhatt@gmail.com

Posted on 03/12/2015