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An international convention for a global minimum wage by groups of countries and specific to exportation


Currently, many nations close their eyes to working conditions, believing they are serving their national interest, but those improper salaries actually keep whole populations in poverty and whole countries under-developed. The International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage project proposes greater equity and a new way of producing and consuming. It would not encroach on nations’ prerogatives, and the economy of each country would continue on its own separate path.

The idea would be to link exporting towards the USA and the EU to a commitment by heads of states, via the International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage, to then initiate legislation in their respective countries in support of a global minimum wage for workers producing goods and services intended for those large consumer markets.

Each government would then be responsible for making sure those new rights were respected both by local sub-contractors and by foreign businesses implanted on their soil. Wronged employees would have recourse to a dedicated international body for soliciting assistance. In case of repeated infringements, penalties would be applied before eventually calling into question importations from that country.

In virtue of the principle of legitimacy and a hierarchy of priorities, the International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage – which could also have been named the International Convention for Human Dignity and the Preservation of the Planet, would override international business and free-trade treaties. Organized under the aegis of the two largest consumer markets (the USA and the EU), it would, in order to ensure its efficiency, be independent of existent bodies.  If one considers the failure of the 1928 convention and other attempts, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has not, over the past 90 years, shown a capacity for introducing and successfully implementing a global minimum-wage project. In his last book Politics against domination, Ian Shapiro, sterling professor of Political Science at Yale, wrote “Created as a branch of the League of Nations by the Treaty of Versailles, the ILO has no enforcement power”. 

The planned modus operandi should require a-year-and-a-half to two years of preparation (once the USA and the EU were on board). If one were to compare it to COP 21 in Paris in 2015, the total cost of the Convention would be about 40 to 50% of the $220 million budget spent in two weeks, and financed essentially by the UN. Simplifying respective countries’ commitment to and implementation of the agreement would facilitate global, rapidly operational application. At a certain point, specified in the agreements, the Convention would become a permanent entity overseeing application of the texts.

To begin with, the global minimum wage could be applied to only the 2 or 3 industrial sectors whose production and transportation needs count among the most polluting ones. In a similar vein, increasing salaries would be spread over 2 or 3 years or even 5 or 6 years when they are very low (e.g. $40 in Ethiopia), in order to allow the changes to take place in an orderly manner. Negotiations for a specific minimum wage for agriculture, i.e. concerning unprocessed products, would also take place. They would take into account the reduced margin differential in that sector. The new agricultural salary (as long as it is not below the minimum wage already in effect in the country) could fall somewhere between the median salary and the manufacturing minimum wage for exportations for the same category. The agricultural salary could also cover mining activities. Since nations’ economies and wages are sometimes interdependent, it would be essential to be sure not to accentuate economic unrest. For example: a 30% increase in the salary of a Chinese factory worker in the export sector would also contribute to preserving equally reevaluated jobs held at the sub-contracting factories that are becoming more numerous on every continent. 

Francis JOURNOT -  "International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage" 

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