Global Living Wage Coalition

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

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

With 18 benchmarks in progress and 20 researchers already trained, the group of six standards systems is getting set up to further integrate living wage into their respective standards. More companies and government partners are sought to support the development of benchmarks and to use them in wage dialogues.

The Cocoa Barometer 2015

The Cocoa Barometer 2015 finds that cocoa farming will not be sustainable until it provides a living income for producers and recommends all major actors address issues jointly and pre-competitively.

Why a living wage collaboration? An interview with ISEAL’s Kristin Komives

Six standards systems are collaborating under the ISEAL Alliance on the hot topic of living wage. We spoke with ISEAL’s Kristin Komives who facilitates the group about why this is such a priority for the standards involved and what is next.

Living wage estimate for Kenya released

The collaboration between a group of sustainability standards to promote higher wages in certified supply chains has led to the release of an agreed living wage benchmark for a region in Kenya.

Collaboration on Living Wage (2014 conference presentation)

Session led by Vanessa Linforth of FSC

ISEAL members trending up in India

It has been over two years since ISEAL started its work in India, as part of our emerging economies focused project with the Swiss government. A recent member meeting in Delhi was not only an opportunity to advance our project activities, it also allowed members to reflect on how the Indian landscape has evolved and to share the impressive progress that each have made.

New living wage benchmarks point the way forward

The collaboration between sustainability standards on living wage has taken a major step forward with the release of living wage benchmarks for rural South Africa, Dominican Republic and Malawi. This marks the start of a collective effort to estimate living wages for the countries in which these standards work and to strengthen the role of standards and certification in supporting wage growth globally.

Living Wage and the Textiles Sector: the best wage is a negotiated one

At the first Global Sustainability Standards Conference, four experts weighed in on living wage in the textiles sector. Altogether there were a fair number of questions to be answered, but also a range of actions and collaborative initiatives to work on wages in a practical way, including a major collaboration by six certification programmes.

Journey Towards a Living Wage

The topic of living wage has exploded into public consciousness – from striking fast food workers in the USA, to global clothing companies in Bangladesh, to speeches by the Archbishop of York. A living wage allows a worker to cover the essential needs of their family, with a little extra for “just in case”. The legal minimum wage too often falls far short of this, leaving workers around the world mired in poverty. So what is needed to finally transform workers’ wages?

Living Wage Methodology

The six ISEAL Members working together on the topic of living wage have come up with a joint statement and methodology on living wage. This methodology was the basis of the group's participation in the European Conference on Living Wages held in November 2013 in Berlin.