WP&O has fired 800 of its workers with the intent of replacing them with agency employees, including foreign workers who were allegedly paid less than minimum wage, sparking outrage. As companies become more global, shouldn’t workers’ rights be as well? I asked Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist and visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics, if it was time for a global minimum wage.
Am I right in thinking that when people discuss the global minimum wage, they are not saying that everyone on the planet should get the same amount?
This is correct. Some people suggest setting it at 50% of each state’s average income. Others, and this is my preferred option, suggest linking it to decent living standards in each country. So all that is needed to have access to good housing, healthcare, education, water, electricity, internet, etc.
Well, because if you don’t tie it to living standards, you get what we have in the UK: One in every six working families is in poverty. Could the global minimum wage raise the minimum for Brits, too?
Yes, it will eliminate the poverty of workers in rich countries as well as in poor countries. It may also help to reduce excess material consumption in the North of the world, because without the over-exploitation of labour, consumer goods would be closer to their true cost. Shifting purchasing power from rich to poor, while ensuring decent living standards – a win for workers and the environment.
But wait, if there is Were still differences from country to country, P&O situation could happen again.
It is conceivable. But under this arrangement, there will be much less variance in minimum wages. Most ordinary people would agree that people should be paid enough to live in dignity, right? However, this is not a reality for the majority of people on the planet – and it happens in rich countries like the UK and the US too. So I expect the popularity of this procedure to be very strong.
How will this be implemented?
It can be an agreement administered by an international institution – for example, the International Labor Organization in Geneva.
Well, after Brexit, An organization in Switzerland may not play a starring role well in the UK.
The point should always be democratic consensus, not hard weaponry. As far as the ILO goes, the main problem is that it represents not only the interest of employment but also the interests of states and companies, so it is tripartite. For me, this is a weakness in the establishment as an advocate for workers’ rights. I would like to see workers have a stronger voice. But it can be managed simply through international agreements, like the ones we have on emissions or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I have spoken to people at the ILO who said they have the capacity to run such a system. It depends on the political will of the states.
he got it Was it taken up by a political party?
not yet. It has only been brought up as an idea for the past 10 years.
Oh, I love a great idea! Isn’t that why so many people are upset with politicians – no big ideas! Hi Jason, maybe this is it…
Well, I agree with that.