Events in support of World Day for Decent Work (WDDW, 7 October) continue to unfold across the world this week, with millions of workers and trade unions standing up for decent work – calling on governments to bring back economic growth based on the principle of work that is fairly paid through safe, secure jobs and that is, well, decent!
The focus of this year's campaign, as outlined by the ITUC, brings living minimum wages and a pay rise for workers everywhere centre stage. Living wages are also a matter of human rights and part of the responsible business set out by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
It may be blindingly obvious to many but earning a living wage provides for food, housing, education for worker’s children and when needed, basic healthcare. The best way to improve people's standard of living, reduce inequality and boost growth is by earning a living wage for the work that you do.
Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ensure that workers can negotiate with employers on implementing fair solutions on living wages. Whether a supply chain runs around the world, or starts and finishes in the UK, the living wage debate won’t be evaded.
From experience, if hard work paid well I’d be a millionaire. Equally, I’ve never understood why some people's skills (such as kicking a leather ball around a field) attract obscene salaries whilst others further down the pecking order – farm labourers, machinist, nurses, teachers for example, earn a pittance in comparison.
As I consider the scale and scope of 2017’s WDDW my thoughts are on why our “wage compass” has lost direction and how this year a living wage re-calibration is firmly in order.