Citizens UK

Global Living Wage Initiatve

Lead Organization

Citizens UK

London, England, United Kingdom

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Current market dynamics drive in-work poverty globally, with over 800m workers unable to meet their basic costs of living. Until now, Living Wage movements that address this issue have operated largely in isolation, with progress in many regions remaining slow. This program evolves and expands the UK’s successful accreditation model (200,000+ workers’ pay uplifted to a Living Wage) enabling over 1.5million working poor to earn a living wage within five years and continuing sustainably until in-work poverty is eradicated. The Global Secretariat will oversee and support a network of Living Wage bodies; grow local, self-sustaining, Living Wage movements and accreditation affiliates; and generate locally accepted Living Wage calculations across 100 countries. This network will address low pay throughout the global supply chain, by connecting living wage producers with living wage buyers and supporting local and global actors to implement effectively.

Problem Statement

Working poverty is a global epidemic, and low-income workers find themselves unable to afford the basics of life for themselves and their families. The impact of this on people, communities and businesses is monumental.The ILO, OECD and World Bank have reported that some 837 million workers in emerging G20 countries—over half of the workforce—were either poor or just above the poverty line in 2013. This in-work poverty is not confined to developing countries. Pew Research indicates that nearly 70% of the world population is considered low-income, living off of less than $10 a day, and at high-risk for falling into deeper poverty. Wages in many countries stopped keeping pace with improved labor productivity in the 1980’s and the direction of global wealth has reoriented from labor compensation to greater percentages in profits. The result is rising inequality wherein GDP growth is not indicative of a healthy economy for most. Increased inequality has negative impacts far beyond struggling families, contributing to developmental and psychological issues in children, fueling political divisiveness and community unrest, and limiting business sustainability. Current market dynamics are driving in-work poverty. A market based-solution that realigns corporate incentives toward more equitable value distribution is the fastest way to effect change globally, and at scale. Living Wages - wages based on real costs of living - represent fairer distribution of economic value. Locally developed accreditation systems redistribute power, giving civil society and consumers the ability to both support Living Wage businesses and hold them accountable.

Solution Overview

The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) and On-Up will tap into growing global interest in Living Wage to expand accreditation that has proven successful across the UK in combating in-work poverty, by including often forgotten contracted staff within the Living Wage commitment. This voluntary mechanism of living wage payment provides direction for the market to become sustainable and creates visible indication of success with a seal that triggers consumer and investor support. Our impact is broad and deep, connecting supply chains with an increasing number of national accreditation initiatives looking to replicate the LWF Affiliate model, ultimately helping millions of working families earn enough to afford a decent quality of life. We will:1.Create an international secretariat, governed by affiliate members to safeguard the integrity of the Living Wage concept, principles and scale estimates across 100 countries.2.Build the capacity of nascent Living Wage movements and initiatives to accredit living wage employers and manage local efforts while contributing to global governance.3.Articulate and present the economic and social case for Living Wage worldwide – including why Living Wages benefit employers, workers, and communities.4.Work with a variety of stakeholders to secure support for our agreed Living Wage approaches.5.Create a supply chain Living Wage standard along with a matching program that connects living wage buyers and retailers with living wage producers globally, enabling producers globally to afford living wage payments for their workers.6.Award global accreditation to multinational corporations paying Living Wages throughout their supply-chains.

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