Non-profit organization, independent and not subjected to public or private subventions, founded for generate an international convention to establish a world minimum wage for export.
Worldwide, most consumers and workers hope to bring an end to working conditions akin to slavery and would welcome the establishment of a global minimum wage.The last international convention against slavery was organized by the League of Nations in 1926 and an international convention for the creation of a global minimum wage, was conducted in 1928 by the International Labor Organization(ILO). Since then, there has been no overall measure to improve the working conditions and remuneration of the most vulnerable populations.
Therefore, in a context of unbridled globalization, where profits reign supreme, there is an urgent need to define new rules to eradicate working conditions close to slavery. We must get the two main consumer markets to sign an agreement with the largest possible number of emerging and developing countries. This protocol could initially involve employees whose activity is related to exportation to the U.S.A. and the E.U.
Francis JOURNOT, Paris (France) september, 27 2013
Letter to :
- Barak OBAMA, president of United States of America,
- Jean Claude JUNCKER, president of European Commission,
- Robert AZEVEDO, director-general of WTO,
- Guy RYDER, director-general of ILO,
- and all heads of state in emerging and developing countries.
A world minimum wage to abolish slavery by Francis JOURNOT
"The eradication of working conditions close to slavery begins with a decent wage"
A LIVING WAGE CAN BE A TOOL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and NGOs (non governmental organizations) regularly provide alarming results on the working conditions and safety of workers in low-cost countries.
But the ethical charters signed by distribution groups and industrial premises prove insufficiently binding and have never significantly improved the lives of peoples too often reduced to slavery.
Each year, hazardous situations and health accidents continue to kill thousands of workers.
Unfortunately, it is not certain that the contractors agree to give up some of their profits even minor, for to do advance the safety and condition of the workers.
Indeed, often, according to them, that is responsibility to subcontractors who, in contrast, generally say, not being able to fund improvements without the financial involvement of major retail groups.
The British trade unionist, Guy Ryder, is the director general of the ILO since october 2012 (photo MEDEF)
TO ADOPT A MORE GLOBAL VISION
In a context of globalization, should be approached with a global vision, the situation of workers in emerging countries.
One can, of course, continue to point the finger at the danger and drudgery and extreme exploitation of workers in some countries, but it exposes them to the relocation of production to other regions where workers are often more fragile .
Since the accident in Dhaka, to which cost the lives of 1,133 people and caused serious injuries and amputations more than 1000 workers among the 1,900 injured, several textile groups, probably more concerned with their image of plight of workers and Bangladeshi workers, now moving production to other Asian and African countries.
An attempt to compensate victims of Rana Plaza was organized September 12, 2013 in Geneva under the auspices of the ILO.
However, only 9 of the 29 brands involved have moved. Among the absentees include AUCHAN, BENETON, C & A, CARREFOUR, MANGO and INDITEX textile group ( capitalization of almost 70 billions euros ), which operates the brands ZARA, MASSIMO DUTTY, BERSHKA, OYSHO, PULL & BEAR, STRADIVARIUS etc..
Rana Plaza building in Dhaka after the collapse of 24 April 2013 (photo Rijans-flickr)
Should be determined in consultation, an amount of salary ambitious enough to change the wage situation of many workers in the world but quite reasonable and moderate to be approved by the largest number of exporting countries.
A discussion between the main consumer markets and all exporting countries could engage around the following basis, which however, would only be a step towards a wage harmonization.
- A minimum net monthly salary of 400 € or 500 $ For workers producing goods or providing services used for export mainly to the two largest consumer markets such as the EU and the USA .
Are concerned: countries in Asia, South America , Africa and Europe. The countries of the European Union (EU) do not guarantee the minimum wage or the amount is less than the recommended threshold should also comply with this rule for export to other countries of the EU or the USA .
It would then be up to each of the participating States to legislate to enforce in local and foreign companies , the provisions agreed in the agreement and governing staff salaries for export .
Moreover, the EU is home to the major inequalities in : Bulgarian minimum wage is the lowest with a net amount of 120 € per month when the Luxembourg equivalent exceeds 1,500 €. It would be for the European Commission to impose greater equity among its members ¹.
MORE PAY IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT INCREASE IN CONSUMER PRICES
Distribution groups and luxury, large retailers and brands have built in just twenty years of globalization , huge financial empires. They distribute each year tens of billions of euros to their share holders at the expense of consumers abused and exploited workers. Their thousands of palaces of consumption are excessive and now occupy millions of square meters of the most beautiful avenues in the world.
But at the other end of the chain, the monthly salaries rarely reach 200 € per month and are often less than 100 €.
That of a Bangladeshi worker is among the lowest in the world with 35 € for sometimes 250/300 hours of labor or from 23 € for Ethiopian workers who have recently revealed to be beaten by the foremen.
The low-cost emerging countries allow retailers to acquire lavish stores of the most beautiful avenues in New York
The ZARA store on 5th Avenue occupies an area of 3 000 m2 and has cost 324 millions dollars. The inditex group already has 6 000 stores worldwide. / The brand H&M, which already has 2,853 stores also multiplies the openings:5 300 m2 in Times Square, 3 900 m2 on 5th Avenue and 5 800 m2 in Herald Center in winter2014.
A part of bags sold hundreds or sometime most 1 000 € in the stores LOUIS VUITTON (LVMH Group), come from Sibiu in Romania. In 2013, the Romanian minimum net monthly wage is less than 160 euros.
However,it would be perfectly possible,in all industries,to pay correctly the staff who produce goods for export, at no extra cost to the consumer.
The decrease in profit is be around more often than a few dozen or a few hundred euros for more expensive items.
For example, the annual amount of working produced by a bangladesh workers paid less than 500 € a year, can participate in the creation of a revenue sometimes reaching 200,000 or 300,000 € per year, consumers spent in large retail chains or stores ready to wear low, medium and high-end luxury.
Similarly, the cost of labor a Smartphone hardly exceeds 2-5% of the sale price, that a pair of sneakers brand is between 1.5 and 3% of the shop price and a luxury bag crafted in a few hours is sometimes sold 1,000 or 2,000 €.
A BARCODE FOR AN BETTER RESPECT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Product trace ability, represented by a bar code required for export to the EU and the U.S., could facilitate the implementation of social rules in the country.
The production of each item has a direct impact on the state of the planet and the depletion of natural resources. Maybe we should not wait for fighting against consumerism, global warming and the destruction of the ecosystem.
A bar code would give an identity to each item. It would indicate the name of the payer, the manufacturer and subcontractors , the level of the social conditions of production personnel , compliance of the substances used and the ecological footprint . This could mark the beginning of a real resource management and trade. Moreover, it would be an effective tool in the fight against counterfeiting.
FOR EVERY COUNTRY CAN BUILD A HEALTHY ECONOMY
Increases, especially low wages, have, according to most economists, Keynesian or belonging to other schools of thought, a positive macroeconomic effect on the development of a country.
The practical effects are amplified as the local economy when the country is emerging and produces agriculture, livestock and manufacturing of consumer goods.
By upgrading the wage of employees working for export , mechanically, the income of all other citizens living in the exporting countries would progress.
Eventually, the increased consumption of essential goods , food or material goods, would generate a growing of domestic market that could help build a more independent and healthy economy, but also less oriented to production which , moreover, has effects on the environment are often disastrous.
CONSUMERS HOSTAGES AND COMPLICES DESPITE US
We , Western consumers no longer accept to be hostages and accomplices of a speculative economic policy that imposes on women, men and sometimes children 10 years old , working conditions akin to slavery .
The promise of happy globalization who was provide work for the poor countries in respect of their rights and provide cheaper goods to rich countries has hardly done :
The working conditions of workers in developing countries have little improved since the beginning of globalization , unemployment in Western countries has exploded and most of the prices of consumer goods increased steadily .
It seems today that the shareholders of the major groups are the main beneficiaries of this fool's bargain .
Certainly, Western donors orders share the responsibility for this form of modern slavery with local industry and must also sometimes deal with mafias and corrupt officials or politicians . Also, the introduction of a statutory minimum wage for export , assist signatories to fight against corruption which deprives workers and citizens, the fruits of that growth is their law. Governments may well fulfill their duty to protect their populations.
Membership in this international convention, consumer markets / developing countries, could be for each of the signatory States, a historic economic opportunity and social advancement .
¹ European Union :
We must consider the introduction of a minimum net monthly salary of 1 000 € for all workers in the EU countries producing goods or providing services used for export as well as for employees posted in one of 28 countries European Union (Examples: Polish and Portuguese construction workers in France and Bulgarian and Romanian workers in the food industry in Germany).
The net minimum wage would apply to the 7 countries that do not have a minimum wage (Germany, Italy, Denmark, Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden).
And among the 21 countries providing a minimum wage, those whose amount is below the threshold of 1,000 € (Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, etc ....)
The minimum wages in the EU continue to apply as soon as they would exceed € 1,000 monthly net.
Eventually, one based on the average net minimum wage French, English, Belgian, Irish, Dutch and Luxembourg (1100 à € 1,550) alignment could be considered for the more
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