Labour

April 11, 2024

ILO reaches agreement on living wages

One in five workers suffer violence, harassment — ILO

By Victor AhiumaYoung

THE International Labour Organization, ILO, has reached an agreement on living wage. The agreement, reached during a meeting of experts on wage policies, in February, was endorsed by the  ILO’s Governing Body at their session in March.  

The experts agreed that decent wages are central to economic and social development and to advance social justice.  

They also play an essential role in reducing poverty and inequality and ensuring a decent and dignified life.  

According to the experts, the concept of a living wage refers to “the wage level that is necessary to afford a decent standard of living for workers and their families, taking into account the country circumstances and calculated for the work performed during the normal hours of work.”  

The agreement says that the estimation of living wages should follow a number of principles, including the usage of evidence-based methodologies and robust data, consultations with workers’ and employers’ organizations, transparency, public availability, and the consideration of regional and local contexts and socio-economic and cultural realities.  

Living wages should be achieved through wage-setting processes that are in line with ILO principles. This includes strengthening social dialogue and collective bargaining and empowering wage-setting institutions.  

The document also recalls that, “the needs of workers and their families and economic factors are the two pillars of wage-setting processes.  Living wages should not be a one-size-fits-all approach and should reflect local or regional differences within countries,” the document outlining details of the living wage agreement says.

It adds that a sustainable strategy to promote living wages, “should go beyond the realm of wage-setting mechanisms alone and include a broader consideration of factors.”  

There has been a positive long-term global trend in average wages. Yet millions of workers worldwide – in both the formal and informal economies – continue to earn very low wages compared to the cost of living and live in poverty. These workers and their families are unable to afford healthy food, decent housing, medical care or schooling for their children.