World Day for Decent Work: It’s Time for a Pay Rise

This 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, the ITUC says “It’s Time for a Pay Rise” to relieve the enormous pressure on working people and their households due to inflation driven by corporate profiteering.

The share of global wealth that goes to wages has fallen by 13 per cent over the past 40 years, even as the world economy has quadrupled in size. This is largely a result of falling trade union density caused by the long-term erosion of workers’ rights detailed in the ITUC Global Rights Index.

Workers are increasingly forced to take strike action as employers take profits for themselves and shareholders while refusing even modest pay demands.

Instead of supporting working people and their dependents, many governments side with bosses and keep the real value of wages at such low levels that families are struggling to survive. The right to strike was violated in nine out of 10 countries last year.

The New Social Contract

ITUC Acting General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “Wages are central to the New Social Contract and are the basis for sustainable and equitable economies. Many employers are refusing to share prosperity with the workers who produce the goods and provide the services that generate wealth, and with corporate tax avoidance and evasion at record highs, the public sector is also starved of the resources it needs to ensure decent levels of pay.

“When employers suppress wages, governments need to intervene by guaranteeing union organising and collective bargaining rights, along with living, statutory or negotiated minimum wages. Some 20 per cent of the world’s formal economy workers depend on the minimum wage.

“Central banks also need to move beyond the outdated and refuted approach of holding wages down to beat inflation. It’s been proved that corporate greed and profiteering have pushed up prices. Last year, 722 corporations pocketed US$1 trillion in windfall profits while the real pay of one billion workers fell by US$746 billion.”

Union members earn more than workers who are not members by between 10 and 25 per cent, and while in unionised workplaces this wage premium can be lower, it is because all the workers, including the non-union members, benefit from pay rates negotiated by unions.

The gender pay gap, currently at around 20 per cent globally, is substantially lower where women workers are unionised, and in many cases is virtually eliminated through collective bargaining.

Unions around the world are also fighting against wage inequality, sub-minimum wages, and exploitative pay rates for migrants, younger workers, and other groups subject to discrimination.

A recent ITUC report provides direct evidence of how significant minimum wage increases have been won by union action.

“The best, and often the only way for workers to get decent wages is through joining their union,” added Luc Triangle.

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