Logofigaro 1 2European and global minimum wage:

Open letter to the President of the

European Commission Jean Claude Juncker

WageLe Figaro/Tribune by Francis Journot, published april 11, 2019 - Francis Journot, initiator of the "International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage" project, publishes an open letter in favour of a "global minimum wage". He believes that it could reduce the damage that consumerism does to the environment.

The European Commission's Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs, which is in charge of replying to my recent letter, recalls the framework of the "European Foundation of Social Rights" proclaimed on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg and the principle relating to wages, which mainly provides that "appropriate minimum wages must be guaranteed, at a level allowing the needs of workers and their families to be satisfied".... However, the Commission is well aware of the impossibility of establishing a European minimum wage within the current legal framework defined by the Treaties and regrets: "the competence to set wages and minimum wages lies mainly with the Member States" and "any proposal for a European framework for minimum wages should be approved by the Member States". So, if we add to this, the opposition of the likely future German Chancellor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK) to the model based on a percentage of the median salary, recently proposed by the French President Emmanuel Macron or by the EU previously, to which many Member States are also opposed, we can then consider that you currently have no effective solution in this matter and it seems urgent to change the method.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been trying to establish a global minimum wage since its foundation in 1919 and the EU has been trying in Europe for 20 years. The UN denounces consumerism and the destruction of the environment. The World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the World Economic Forum have expressed concern about rising inequality. It is therefore necessary to combine actions.    However, international institutions and the EU are trapped in excessively cumbersome protocols and room for manoeuvre is limited. Examples include the ILO's tripartite structure or the principle of unanimity among EU members. So how do we implement it?

The "International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage" project 

In a globalised world, competition between low-cost countries is obviously global and we must therefore understand these issues as a whole. Wages in the EU cannot be increased unilaterally without risking affecting the economies of some of its member countries. But at a time when everyone regrets the damage that consumerism has done to the environment and the rise in inequality, States around the world could, as part of a global consensus, be inclined to take a step towards a more virtuous model together. To do this, we would have to propose a realistic timetable based on personalised studies.

The positioning of the cursor on minimum wage targets that may appear unambitious but that few countries could therefore refuse, would certainly not be likely to instantly change the living conditions of the 300 million working poor who live with less than 1.7 euro ($2) per day (source ILO) or those who receive barely more. On the other hand, this increase in remuneration, which would, however, initially concern only a part of the sectors of activity and populations, would secure this change and would, above all, make it possible to finally set in motion a project for a global minimum wage that has been dormant for nearly a century. Without it, the European minimum wages, particularly in the consumer goods manufacturing industry, would prove complicated or even impossible.

It would therefore be appropriate to create a more agile and private-law dedicated structure, capable of pooling will and skills, but duly mandated by the EU and international institutions to prepare the conditions that will then allow the signature of international agreements. 

A strategy based on both economic expertise and a relevant communication could promote the establishment of a global minimum wage with 5 to 7 levels of compatibility. In continuity with the work already carried out and the leads identified since 2013 in the framework of the "International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage" project, more than 200 researchers could carry out analyses of the economic parameters of each of the countries concerned. Among these, many recognized experts would work, already experienced in these issues and often belonging to our large global network which now includes nearly 4,000 economists (most of whom hold a PhD in economics). Their counterparts in the EU and international partner institutions could share data or collaborate more broadly on the basis of a common methodology. The roles of the ILO and the WTO (World Trade Organization) could prove decisive.

Research departments at prestigious universities could enrich this content. The full reports would sometimes include several hundred pages of analysis per country and projections whose exclusively technical and non-partisan treatment and interpretation would guarantee their objectivity. These would then be used to draw up the fair schedules proposed to States. They should make it possible to limit as far as possible the risks of economic dysfunction and to contain inflation phenomena. 

The other essential aspect of our mission would be to explain this little-known and complex subject to as many people as possible. To be successful, the minimum wage must be perceived by all countries as an opportunity for social and economic progress, sometimes even as protection. For example, in Europe, Eastern European countries would understand that in the absence of new rules, the "new silk roads" could destroy their industries without lifting other distant populations out of poverty. Indeed, Chinese workers' wages have increased considerably, but Chinese industry now often uses labour located outside its borders and sometimes pays 40 euros ($50) for 200 hours a month. A wage increase for all workers working for export to major consumer markets could most often lead to an increase in the quality of manufacturing and materials used. This increase in value added, which would offset a decrease in export volumes, would also reduce consumerism. The means of communication and teaching deployed would include holding 100 to 200 conferences around the world in 2 to 3 years, providing real-time information on the progress of the project, increasing the number of forums in the international press and, more generally, using the most effective tools.

At a time when we are all concerned about the future of humanity and the loss of biodiversity, the "global minimum wage" could rebalance economic mechanisms and thus reduce the ravages of consumerism on the environment.

Francis JOURNOT International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage  Copyright © 2013 - 2019 - non profit NGO International Convention for a Global Minimum Wage & Francis Journot Fair Consulting - All rights reserved