Global Living Wage Coalition

Manufacturing sports balls in Pakistan © Fairtrade International
Manufacturing sports balls in Pakistan © Fairtrade International
The Global Living Wage Coalition brings together six of the world's most influential sustainability standards to improve wage levels in certified supply chains.

The topic of living wage has exploded into public consciousness, from fast food workers in the US to global clothing companies in Bangladesh. A living wage allows a worker to cover the essential needs of their family, with a little extra “just in case." The legal minimum wage too often falls far short of this concept, leaving workers around the world mired in poverty.  Living wage is a complex topic, but is increasingly seen as a fundamental human right.

Sustainability standards define what is responsible practice and drive change in businesses.  And standards are already working with several hundred brands, buyers and retailers that need to be part of wage discussions around the world. As such, sustainability standards can provide a great deal of influence in the living wage debate.

ISEAL members Fairtrade International, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), GoodWeave, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA), and UTZ Certified, along with Social Accountability International (SAI), have made a joint commitment and launched an unprecedented collaboration that will scale up their impacts in living wage.  The group, called the Global Living Wage Coalition, recognises that living wage is crucial to their individual certification programmes and they have agreed to a shared approach for measuring living wage.  

The long term goal and shared mission of Global Living Wage Coalition is to see improvements in workers' conditions, including wage levels, in the farms, factories and supply chains participating in our respective certification systems and beyond.

In the coming years the coalition will lead to the strengthening of living wage requirements in codes and criteria but this joint effort is focused on a great deal more than the content of standards, because compliance with a certification programme will not raise wages on its own.  The coalition, in partnership with Richard and Martha Anker have developed a state-of-the-art methodology for calculating living wage, developing a set of country-specific living wage estimates, and testing them in various sectors and countries.  They will be using all of this work to equip a range of organisations engaged in living wage, including supply chain partners, workers and trade unions, among others, to increase dialogue and take stronger action to increase wages. UPDATE: The full Living Wage Manual, which explains each step in the process of estimating a living wage, is now available here.

ISEAL is facilitating this coalition and welcomes the interest of organisations that can help us put in place the conditions, partnerships, and structures to support the group's long-term goal to see wages in certified supply chains increase towards living wage.

The Coalition is working on commissioning and completing studies across the globe to set living wage benchmarks for regions and sectors. Please check the Living Wage Benchmark Reports block on the left to access the studies that are available. 

The Coalition has also trained 20 researchers in three training events in Turkey, China and Costa Rica in 2015. 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.

To keep updated with the work of the Coalition and receive benchmark reports as they come out, sign up to our mailing list here. 

Related information and resources

Living Wage estimates in Vietnam create an opening for corporate and government action to help workers earn a living wage

The Global Living Wage Coalition (GLWC) has released two living wage benchmark reports estimating living wages in rural and urban Vietnam.

Malawi living wage benchmark infographic

Here you will find the living wage benchmark infographic for Malawi issued by the Global Living Wage Coalition.

Vietnam living wage benchmark report and infographic

Here you will find living wage benchmark reports and infographics for Vietnam issued by the Global Living Wage Coalition.

Living Income Webinar No.14: Closing income gaps - an insight from the cocoa sector

Antonie Fountain from the VOICE Network discusses the viable options to raise farm gate prices to the level that allows farmers to escape structural poverty and attain a living income. The VOICE Network has published a consultation paper on this topic and this was an opportunity to understand the key points raised in the paper and how the sector can act on this critical component of closing the gap between actual and living incomes.

A new stage in the living wage debate: reflections on the Roundtable on Living Wage in the Agri-food Sector

Kristin Komives, Impacts Director at ISEAL, reflects on how far the discussion around living wage has come after attending the Roundtable on Living Wage in the Agri-food Sector.

Anker methodology for estimating living wages published

Richard and Martha Anker recently published ‘Living Wages Around the World: Manual for Measurement’, which describes a new methodology to measure a decent but basic standard of living in different countries.

Eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking in supply chains

Norma Tregurtha, Director, Policy and Outreach at ISEAL considers the role of businesses in tackling forced labour.

Ethiopia living wage benchmark report and infographic

Here you will find a living wage benchmark and report for Ethiopia issued by the Global Living Wage Coalition.

Sialkot, Pakistan living wage significantly higher than new government poverty line wage, minimum wage, and prevailing wages

A new living wage benchmark report from the Global Living Wage Coalition found a gap from around 50% to over 100% on key wage comparisons in Sialkot, Pakistan.