It’s Time To Introduce A Global Minimum Wage

global minimum wage

Al Jazeera, Dr. Jason Hickel argues that a global minimum wage is not only just, but doable:

Because of neoliberal economic policies imposed over the past few decades, companies now have the power to rove the globe in search of what CEOs refer to as the “best investment conditions”.

So workers are made to face a stark choice: accept dangerous conditions and minimum wages of $0.21 per hour, or lose their jobs. The constant threat of replacement keeps workers cheap and docile, to the tremendous benefit of corporate profits.

The problem with globalisation is that capital has been globalised while the rules that protect people from it have not. If we’re going to have a global labour market, it stands to reason that we need a global system of labour standards [and] a global minimum wage.

Not only is it now conceivable to have a global minimum wage system, it’s also – for the first time in history – quite doable. The UN’s International Labour Organization has already proven that it has the will and the capacity to govern such a system.

To put it bluntly, the global labour market is rigged in the interest of multinational companies; it is designed to allow them to pump value out of human bodies – mostly poor, brown, female bodies – as efficiently as possible. Those bodies generate the enormous wealth that gets pocketed as profits and CEO bonuses.

Set the global minimum wage at a fixed percent – economist Thomas Palley recommends 50 percent – of each country’s median wage, so it would be tailored to local economic conditions and costs of living. As wages increase across the spectrum, the floor would move up automatically. All countries would be treated equally, and countries that presently enjoy a comparative advantage through cheap labour would retain that advantage.

What would a global minimum wage mean for consumers? Not much, it turns out. Economist Robert Pollin has found that doubling the wages of sweatshop workers in Mexico would raise the price of clothes sold in the US by only 1.8 percent.

When we buy the things that we need to sustain and enjoy our lives, we should be able to be confident that we are not colluding in the exploitation of other human beings who toil in near-slavery conditions.

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  • Charlie Primero

    Ah, some good old classic Fabian Fascism from the London School of Economics, founded in 1895 by the Fabian Society.

    Create the Problem: Rig the laws, courts, and government policies to allow corporations to exploit workers.

    Enjoy the Reaction: Workers become angry and demand “Action”.

    Provide the Solution: Even more oppressive laws and policies under the guise of “Reform”.

    The Roman emperors were bumbling amateurs at exploiting human resources compared to these guys.

  • howiebledsoe

    The only reason they have implemented a new world order is to take advantage of cheap labour. With that in mind, there are two solutions. Turn the 1st world into the 3rd world and give everyone the same 0.25$ per hour wage, or continue on as we are doing now. Either way, we are screwed.

  • Eric_D_Read

    Never gonna happen.

    • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

      I tend to agree if for no other reason than the Feds can barely enforce the Davis-Bacon Act and the FLSA here in the States.

      Making sure some (or worse, every) child-laborer in a dim recess of the world is getting paid a Global Minimum Wage seems entirely beyond the capacity and will of any government.

      • Eric_D_Read

        I don’t know if it’s beyond their capacity, but definitely beyond their will.

        Either that, or a global minimum wage will be used to further erode the living standards of the working class in the developed world.

        Ex. A GMW of $2.00/hr U.S. will be implemented everywhere.

  • The Well Dressed Man

    On the paranoid side: How do you ensure a minimum wage across shifting exchange rates? Establish a global currency…..

  • Dingbert

    How about a guaranteed minimum income and increasing unionization instead?

  • Thomas Barr

    The article mentions a suggested minimum wage be 50% median wage. It seems that data would then be smudged as a result of lobbyists and those trying to keep minimum wage down. Then we would need some kind of… international organization to get this data. But wages are on censuses, right? So we would need an international census group. I think that is another interesting question worthy of considering. When we start considering “Global Minimum Wage” we must consider snowball effects. Also, what might be an incentive for countries to join a Global Minimum Wage?

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