” Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity. » This fundamental principle is recognized by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 [article 23].
Anyone with a full-time job should not only be able to feed and house themselves, but also have access to care and education, for themselves and their family. That is to say access to a living wage.
Unfortunately, even in some so-called industrialized countries, this evidence is still not a reality and the current excesses linked to inflation and economic tensions are aggravating already well-established inequalities.
Globally, the gap is striking, particularly in the countries where most of the mining, processing and production operations for our electronic products are concentrated. A sector in which people work in mines with particularly difficult conditions, with a salary of less than 5 dollars a day (about 4.80 euros), or in factories in which they assemble devices on production lines for more than eighty hours a week to support themselves. They are the hidden workforce behind the products you have in your hands.
It is therefore time for manufacturers in the electronics sector, all countries combined, to ensure the relevance of going beyond the minimum wage. Ideally, this should not be necessary: the legal minimum wages in the countries of production should constitute a living wage.
It is clear that, too often, this is not the case. According to statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO), nearly one in five workers in the world earn too little to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty. A study reveals, for example, that in four regions of China in 2020a living wage would actually be three times the local legal minimum wage.
Paying a decent wage simply means treating workers as people rather than “human resources” and respecting their inalienable dignity.
Little more than a café on the terrace
Moreover, guaranteeing a living wage is a ridiculously low effort! Concretely, for a brand of smartphone, this represents 2 euros per device sold, barely more than a coffee on the terrace… Generalizing this commitment is not rocket science either: in many industries including electronics, multiple actors have already done the work and share their methodology, taking into account the cost of living and geographical differences for each production location.
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