The six organisations, which each run their own sustainability certification programmes, will be measuring living wage levels in a shared way by adding up the cost of a low cost nutritious diet and decent housing, along with other essential needs and unforeseen costs. This common approach to living wage will be reflected in how they work to improve labour practices in farms, factories and forests across the globe and collaborate with retailers, buyers, producers and trade unions to make a living wage a reality.
Debates over living wage are garnering a lot of attention in both developed and developing countries, as wage earners try to ensure their families can meet basic needs, and as wage and income inequalities grow. Even where minimum wage laws are in place, they are not always enforced, nor are they always sufficient to guarantee a decent standard of living. Increasingly living wage is being recognised as a fundamental human right.
The groups have banded together to respond to this call and work towards a long term goal of improving wages, recognising that on a thorny and difficult issue such as this, sustainability standards can make huge strides by combining their efforts to promote sustainable livelihoods.
Karin Kreider, Executive Director of ISEAL and a leading expert on sustainability standards and certification, said “this is an unprecedented commitment across a range of certification organisations. Together they are committing to work with each other, and with brands, buyers, and retailers to make wage growth at the primary production level possible.”
Dr. Kristin Komives, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Manager at ISEAL who is facilitating the living wage collaboration said, “Introducing wage requirements in our certifications and standards is significant, but it can only be done in combination with discussion among all actors in the supply chain about a just distribution of gains from production and trade. There is shared long-term vision among these standards and labelling organisations to develop living wage benchmarks that will drive social dialogue among workers and employers."
Kreider added: “this is an important but necessary step towards achieving wages at a level that will help workers escape poverty. These organisations and ISEAL are firmly committed to this process.”
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