Friday, June 17, 2016

RFP: Consultant to COnduct Research on Living Wage

OXFAM: who are we?

Oxfam is a leading aid, development and campaigning not-for-profit organisation with a world-wide reputation for excellence and over 60 years’ experience working in Indonesia. Our purpose is to work with others to overcome suffering and find lasting solutions to poverty.

Currently we are looking for Consultant to Conduct Research on Living Wage (Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang/Yogyakarta)

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are key ‘enabling rights’. This means that when these rights are respected, workers can use them to ensure that other labour standards, including a living wage, are upheld. A living wage must always be a negotiated figure.

A living wage, by definition, means that a working person must be able to support themselves and their family. The notion of living wage is well embedded in the international human right discourse. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23(3) states:
“Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”

However, despite this clear definition of the right to a living wage, for most of the  garment workers the reality is a life first and foremost of poverty.

Legal minimum wages in garment-producing countries all over the world fall short of a living wage, meaning garment workers are unable to provide the most basic needs for themselves and their families. The gap between the legal minimum wage and a living wage is ever growing. Yet the daily challenges for an income-poor worker are not limited to money constraints. If a worker’s salary for a standard working week is not enough to cover the basic needs for them and their family, they face other poverty related problems, such as low calorific intake, limited access to adequate health services, lack of social security, poor housing, limited access to education and limited participation in cultural and political life.

For many years, the garment industry has justified the shift of production to impoverished economies by highlighting the employment opportunities that the industry brings, and underlining that women in particular benefit from the jobs the garment industry provides. It is indeed true that the vast majority of Indonesian workers in garment factories in Indonesia are women, and their jobs are a lifeline for millions of people and their families – even if this lifeline is often very thin and fragile.

However, mounting evidence from on the ground shows that jobs in garment factories do not offer workers the economic advancement promised by globalisation, and many who enter the system become trapped in poverty. Workers, especially women (who make up 80% of the workforce in the garment industry), do not get a fair share of the value they generate in the supply chain and are not paid a wage they can live from, let alone enough to save and start to break the cycle of poverty. They are trapped in a vicious circle of low wages, excessive overtime, unfavourable debt schemes and extreme dependency, which makes them vulnerable as employees.

What is a living wage?

The right to a living wage is established in several ILO declarations and conventions:

•        Constitution of the ILO, 1919: Preamble of the Charter
•        Declaration of Philadelphia, International Labour Conference, 1944
•        ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, 2008
•        Convention 131 and 156 (indirectly) and Recommendations 131 and 135 (indirectly)

The defines a living wage as follows:

“Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week shall meet at least legal or industry minimum standards and always be sufficient to meet basic needs of workers and their families and to provide some discretionary income.”

More specifically, a living wage:
•        Applies to all workers, which means that there is no salary below the living-wage level
•        Must be earned in a standard work week of no more than 48 hours
•        Is the basic net salary, after taxes and (where applicable) before bonuses, allowances or overtime
•        Covers the basic needs of a family of four (two adults, two children)
•        Includes an additional 10% of the costs for basic needs as discretionary income
1). To support advocating decent work protocol on wages to discover the challenges, obstacles and opportunities. Based on this research, then Oxfam can determine the new strategy.
2). Oxfam in Indonesia still could provide advice, information and advocacy experience on decent work protocol.

The solution to the problem of low wages will involve a number of key players in supply chains being willing to work together, namely brands, suppliers, unions (local, national and global), employer federations and governments. This will require trust and partnership between all parties being built over time. A willingness to be transparent also plays a key role. It is vital that brands play their part in initiating partnerships with corporate and labour stakeholders. Vitally important in all of this is the engagement of workers and their organisations in the design and implementation of any projects to increase wages. So often these partners are overlooked or only briefly consulted.

Also, The United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UN Guiding Principles), which clearly state the role and responsibilities of businesses and states.

The UN Guiding Principles are based on three pillars:
1. The state duty to protect human rights
2. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights
3. Access to remedy
This establishes a principle of shared responsibility between the state and business, meaning that states have an obligation to set the legal minimum wage on a subsistence level in order to protect the human right to a living wage, and business has to respect the human right to pay wages accordingly.

However, the framework also clearly states that the responsibility to respect human rights “exists independently of States’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfil their own human rights obligations, and does not diminish those obligations. And it exists over and above compliance with national laws and regulations protecting human rights.”

In other words, in cases where the state fails to protect human rights – such as when the legal minimum wage fails to meet the minimum subsistence level (living wage) – business still has an obligation to respect the human right to a living wage and to take advantage of this state failure.

The UN Guiding Principles establish supply chain responsibility, which means that a company is responsible for the human-rights impacts throughout its supply chain, independent of where the adverse impact occurs (i.e. in their own facilities or with first-tier suppliers, suppliers of first-tier suppliers or home workers). So while production of garments is often outsourced, the responsibility remains with each corporation and cannot be delegated and outsourced down the supply chain.

Principle 13: “The responsibility to respect human rights requires that business enterprises:

a)        Avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and address such impacts when they occur;
b)        Seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.”

It seems abundantly clear from this that the business responsibility to pay a living wage, which is so often disputed or cast aside as a state responsibility by fashion brands and retailers, is non-negotiable.

How to apply

If you believe you are the consultant candidate we are looking for please submit your proposal including CV, professional fee and all out of pocket expenses to and please state Consultant Research Living Wage on the subject of your email.

Latest date for application will be on
 June 23rd, 2016

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted

We are committed to ensuring diversity and gender equity within the organization | | twitter: #Oxfam Indonesia
Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering
Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering
Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 612172.
Registered office: Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY.
A registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC 039042)

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