The Global Wages Crisis

Millions of workers across the world are not earning enough to live in dignity, and inadequate social protection systems are exacerbating high levels of inequality and poverty.

Eighty-three per cent of people in thirteen of the G20 G20 The Group of Twenty, or G20, is a forum for international cooperation on the most important aspects of the international economic and financial agenda. It brings together 19 countries and the European Union, which together represent around 90% of global GDP, 80% of global trade and two thirds of the world’s population. countries believe that the minimum wage is not enough to live on, according to the ITUC Global Poll.

Despite unprecedented economic growth over the last decades, wages have stagnated globally and have not kept pace compared to rising productivity.

Wage inequality is increasing, with the highest-wage earners enjoying a wage rise multiple times faster than the average. The share of labour income in GDP is declining, and profits are not being shared with workers through pay rises.

Unions are calling on governments to set minimum living wages, based on the cost of living and with the full involvement of social partners.

The ITUC, working with affiliates and the ITUC regions, calls on governments in Asia and Africa to support a year of action on wages and decent work. In Central America, governments are being asked to commit to solidarity on wage rises to ensure that minimum wages are living wages.

Obstacles to freedom of association need to be effectively addressed by governments. Collective bargaining on wages should be promoted, and agreements should have wide coverage and be enforced by law. Adequate, comprehensive social protection systems – in line with ILO Convention 102 and Recommendation 202 – must also be put in place in order to guarantee income security for workers and their families as part of a comprehensive strategy of reducing inequality and promoting adequate living standards for all.

The world needs a pay rise. Unions are campaigning in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America:

• 100% Africa: Dignity, Value and Wages
• Cerrar la brecha - Salario digno
• ASEAN Fights for +50
• Fair pay in Eastern Europe: to eat, to live, to stay


Campaign plan: 100% Africa - Dignity, Value, Wages
Documents and presentations - Wage Floor Forum Africa
Supporting wage-led growth - The case for coordinated African wage floors


ASEAN Fights for +50 - Ensuring decent work, minimum living wages and social protection are on the ASEAN agenda
Making 2019 the ASEAN year for decent work, minimum living wages and social protection

Latin America

Campaign plan: Cerrar la brecha - Salario digno
Documentos y presentaciones - Foro sobre Piso Salarial - Panama
Supporting wage-led growth - The case for Central American wage floors

Eastern Europe

The Case for Fair Pay in Eastern Europe