New York, NY, February 27, 2024–This weekend, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN entity responsible for setting international labor standards, reached the first-in-history multilateral agreement on the concept of a “living wage.” The alignment on the concept, negotiated between workers, employers and governments, was part of the outcome of a week-long expert meeting on wage policies, including living wages.
In recent years, there has been a rise in political pressures on ensuring wage levels that can ensure a decent standard of living and an increase in living wage initiatives and consulting firms, claiming to help companies set correct wage levels. Yet, as reported by the ILO, such initiatives have largely been ignoring the second pillar of wage-setting, namely economic factors. The expert meeting provided clarity on this and underscored that a wage-setting process must take into account both the needs of workers and economic factors.
“We are proud to have reached multilateral alignment on the concept of a ‘living wage,’” said Ewa Staworzynska, director of corporate responsibility and labor affairs at USCIB, who represented American business during the expert meeting, together with Ryan Larsen, group director, international labor relations at Walmart. “In order to set sustainable wages and not disrupt employment levels, it is critical that wage-setting processes couple the estimates of needs of workers with economic factors, such as macroeconomic stability and productivity levels.”
The full conclusions, including the ILO’s description of the concept, is expected to be published in the coming days.
The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) advances the global interests of American business. We do so through advocacy for an open system of world trade, finance, and investment, where business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare, and environmental protection. We are the sole U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). USCIB is also the only U.S. business organization with standing at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and is recognized at the UN Environment Program (UNEP), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD).