Enough with “Can you go any cheaper?” – It’s time for a global minimum wage!

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It is still true that more than one billion people on the planet earn less than one dollar per hour. Today, however, we are at the verge of a historic breakthrough. We now have a chance to finally establish a humane global minimum wage. With one simple step. What has happened? What still needs to be done?

Two-and-a-half years ago, we used this Change.org petition and our book “The 1-Dollar Revolution” to demand the introduction of a global minimum wage of at least 1 dollar per hour. At the time, the minimum wage for textile workers in the worst-paid industry in Bangladesh was 30 cents, and even this rate was often fallen short of. Now, it is precisely the textile workers in the worst-paid industry that have brought about a miracle: Their minimum wage has increased nearly 4 times in only two-and-a-half years – from 30 to 110 cents, or 1.10 dollars. This pulls the rug from under the last argument as to why the enforcement of a global minimum wage of one dollar is a fanciful utopia! We are now standing at a crossroads – either we can continue with the “Can you go any cheaper?” mentality and the associated wage wars, or we can achieve a historic breakthrough with an orderly and competition-neutral global minimum wage.

The one path will continue the “status quo” with “free” cutthroat competition for the lowest wages, where buyers haggle over every cent by asking the same question: “Can you go any cheaper?” But today – even from an economic perspective – does it truly still make sense to keep slave laborers? Doesn’t it make much more sense for all of us if they are freed from this misery – as is the case for hundreds of millions in China – to become much better paid workers and thus consumers with higher spending power? What effect would it have in Europe if there were humane wages throughout Africa? It would be a win-win concept for everyone.

The spell has now been broken: It has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a legally prescribed minimum wage even above that of our previously “utopian” demand is indeed possible. At the same time, after the long-lasting protests and street blockades by the textile workers in Bangladesh, we have to realize that the patience of all who are de facto slave workers will eventually run out and that they will resort to fighting if we do not provide them with another better and more sensible perspective.

So the following question is unavoidable: Is the absolutely spot-on goal of a humane global minimum wage only achievable through struggle? Or will we pause and think about a much wiser way to achieve the same goal? Whether or not we as consumers would have any disadvantages due to a global minimum wage for today’s slave workers can be answered by asking ourselves one simple question: Did anyone even notice that the hourly wage for textiles from Bangladesh went up so much recently? No, we didn’t notice – because, in spite of the minimum wage, these wages only make up a fraction of the overall costs from the production sites to the stores in our countries. With fair minimum wages all around the world and with the end of poverty that would follow, one of the main factors that causes of the flow of refugees, environmental destruction, and wars and that plays into the hands of extremists would disappear.

The UN, the ILO (International Labour Organization), the EU, the governments, and the companies should consider now whether they will take the initiative for a vastly more sensible and simpler solution: the introduction of a globally binding and thus competition-neutral global minimum wage for all companies in the world. This would equally affect all companies, and therefore none would need to fear being at a competitive disadvantage any longer.

The UN could and should declare a global minimum wage as an inalienable human right.

The ILO should set and enforce a binding global minimum wage of 1 dollar per hour or more.

The European Union could and should simply issue an EU regulation that would only permit products to be imported for which wages at or above the global minimum wage of 1 dollar per hour had been paid. The EU has already issued many regulations on health and ecological standards that all products sold and imported in the EU need to fulfill. Companies operating on a global scale have submitted to these standards because they cannot afford to forego the European market. In our book “The 1-Dollar Revolution,” we describe a system for establishing and monitoring this. In addition, the book also describes in detail the enormous advantages of such a competition-neutral solution for everyone.

This is by far the shortest, most effective, and most realistic way to enforce the basic human right to a global minimum wage. Inhuman “Can you go any cheaper?” haggling when competing for rock-bottom exploiter wages would finally come to an end. And normal collective bargaining can apply for everything above the minimum wage level – as is the case here now as well.

Therefore: Support this petition for a global minimum wage as a minimum requirement for the idea of human rights and as a very effective measure, for a minimum wage will result in 100 percent of the money reaching 100 percent of those affected. And support this petition as a test case as well: Will we manage to tackle the overdue major corrections to our global economy and global society with sufficiently large steps? This is a test case for our newly launched “Economy to Weconomy” initiative – from an economy with human rights abuses for billions of people to a humane economy in global solidarity, one we have coined Weconomy.
(See www.economy2weconomy.net)