Global Living Wage

Working poverty is an issue that affects millions of workers around the world, regardless of whether they live in a high or low income country. Rich or poor, most countries have struggled to lift all workers onto a wage that covers the real cost of living.

In the UK, the Living Wage Foundation has spearheaded the campaign for decent wages. Almost 9,000 companies have joined this movement in the UK, lifting 300,000 workers onto a Living Wage and putting over £1.5bn back into the pockets of low paid workers. 

      Global Living Wage

      In recent years, business leaders, government officials, academics, NGOs and unions have expressed interest in a global approach to delivering a Living Wage. In response, the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) has been exploring the possibility of developing such a global, collaborative approach.

      The diversity of economic conditions around the world means that it is not practical to think in terms of setting one fixed benchmark of pay at the global level. Differences in the availability of data and social norms about work, family life and the core tenets of what constitutes a decent standard of living will vary in different countries, making a single methodology an impossibility. There are also valid differences of opinion regarding how the Living Wage should be implemented, including the rules of any accreditation scheme and the role of governments in encouraging or ensuring that employers pay a real Living Wage to their staff. Through an extensive consultation process carried out in 2015 to resolve some of these differences, a set of six principles was developed to inform advocacy for Living Wages around the world, and these can be found in our summary report The Living Wage: Core principles

      The principles underpin our work with existing global initiatives that focus primarily on responsible procurement and/or Living Income in supply chains. Together, the global Living Wage movement can ensure that employers are equipped to pay their workers a real Living Wage across global operations, by developing a holistic approach that creates consensus across commodities and sectors at national level.

      The Living Wage Foundation has convened civil society from countries across the world who are working on their own Living Wage movement. This ranges from countries who are working on policy and building the movement to countries that have their own national accreditation schemes similar to that of the Foundation. We are currently working with Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jersey, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA. We coordinate events to share learnings, promote alignment with global work and provide insight on tools available from other global projects to employers and investors to help them on their own Living Wage journeys. 

      The Foundation is also developing the Global Living Wage Affiliates, a group of national level accreditation bodies that all have shared values and principles. The aim is to encourage global consistency on the definition of a real Living Wage and approaches to accreditation whilst allowing for local flexibility across countries. We are excited to be launching this network soon, starting with the US movement, Living Wage for US.   

      Who is who in the Global Living Wage Network?

      Find out which countries are part of our Global Living Wage network.

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      Lessons from our Global Living Wage Network

      This report shares some overarching lessons learned from our Global Living Wage Network, including those drawn from national level approaches in Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and the USA, as well as from global sectoral initiatives like ACT on Living Wages, the World Banana Forum, and Malawi Tea 2020. 

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      SDGs and Living Wage Report

      This report shows how a global expansion of the Living Wage could help to deliver a range of UN Sustainable Development Goals including those to end poverty and hunger, improve health and wellbeing, expand quality education, deliver gender equality, provide clean water and sanitation, ensure good work and reduce inequalities.

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      More details on this project will be provided in due course. In the meantime, please contact shaheen.hashmat@livingwage.org.uk with any enquiries relating to our work on Global Living Wage.