27. January 2021

Müller and Kaag speak out in favor of living incomes and wages

German Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller and Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag signed a joint statement between the German and Dutch governments on promoting living incomes and wages in a digital meeting on January 27, 2021.

With the joint statement, Germany and the Netherlands position themselves as pioneers for living wages and incomes. The declaration sends a clear signal to companies that they must fulfill their human rights due diligence.

At its core, the joint declaration includes the following fields of action:

  • Foster the dialogue between governments from consumer countries and governments from producer countries in the context of realizing sustainable supply chains.
  • Promote the importance of an adequate minimum wage, which is sufficient to cover costs of living.
  • Support the ILO in developing indicators and methodologies to set minimum wages that cover costs for costs of living in decency.
  • Advocate responsible business conduct policy in European fora
  • Advocate to include living wages and living incomes in EU policy concerning sustainable value chains and in future reviews of National Actions Plans for Business and Human Rights in the Netherlands and in Germany.

The declaration is however not only directed at companies to take action, but also calls on governments in producing countries. Germany and the Netherlands want to work closely with the International Labor Organization (ILO). The organization is currently developing a guideline to help calculate minimum wages in such a way that living and subsistence costs are integrated. If a country has not yet introduced corresponding minimum wages, the guide will also provide companies with orientation for paying living wages.

Good examples exist. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is working together with the food retailer REWE GROUP and Fairtrade Germany as part of the "Living Income from Tree Crops" project to enable smallholder farmers in Ghana to earn a living income. This is done, among other things, by paying minimum prices above the world market price as well as premiums for cocoa, but also by strengthening and professionalizing cocoa and cashew cooperatives."

With this joint declaration, the Dutch and German governments are setting a good example and take big steps towards living wages and incomes in global agricultural supply chains. However, the declaration is also a call to civil society organizations and other stakeholders to seize the momentum and take the issue of living wages and incomes to a wider audience.

You can download the joint statement here.