Academic journal article International Journal of Labour Research

Foreword

Academic journal article International Journal of Labour Research

Foreword

Article excerpt

As director of the Bureau for Workers' Activities at the ILO, it gives me a special pleasure to introduce this issue of the International Journal of Labour Research on the subject of the minimum wage. This is a question that has seldom received the attention it deserved, but that has become a crucial battlefield for labour in the current period.

If the fact that wage earners are asked to pay for the irresponsibility of financial institutions was not indecent enough, the current imposition by the European Commission, the IM F and the European Central Bank of a reduction in the minimum wage by up to a quarter in order to unblock the "aid package" to crisis-ridden European countries is not only morally corrupt but is also self-defeating in terms of economic outcomes.

Moreover, this goes squarely against the spirit of ILO Convention No. 131 which calls for the minimum wage to strike a balance between "the needs of workers and their families" and "economic factors" as well as for full consultation and participation of social partners. Indeed, the reduction of the minimum wage in Greece to 400 euros against the will of both workers and employers in that country is outrageous.

More generally, the failure to widely share the benefits of growth has brought back to the fore a basic fact: far too many workers across the world do not earn a living wage. Injunctions by mainstream economists along the lines of "grow first and share later" have proved misguided as the sharing moment seems forever postponed for later...

This is why the renewed interest in the minimum wage as one of the tools to ensure shared prosperity is a most welcome development. And there is a lot of work to be done in this respect as the minimum wage rarely qualifies as a living wage in most jurisdictions. …

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