Decent Work with a Living Wage

Source: Michael J. Zimmer, Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 1072083, 2008
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The effects of globalization on employment justify augmenting the fundamental principles articulated in the ILO’s 1998 Declaration by including a global goal of decent work with a living wage. Adding the principle of decent work with a living wage can help keep labor law relevant because it can be the organizing principle for an array of unions and other groups interested in worker welfare to push for its implementation as a matter of international, regional and national law. The goal of decent work with a living wage can be a rallying cry to help overcome the prevailing neoliberal assumption that the present set of very limited regulations of the market is a natural law. Regaining the intellectual high ground for claims of worker rights to decent work with a living wage can be the product for, but also the cause of, organized action by those who share values in fair treatment at a global level. Unions, but also other NGOs, need to see that it is in their long term interest as well as the long term interest of the workers it claims to represent to reach across borders to work together to achieve this goal. Conflicting strategic interests and different legal and organizational cultures make this a daunting goal, but one worth pursuing.

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