Introducing the

Just Wage

Just Wage Forum 2021

Criterion 6: Wage Reflects Participation by Workers

A just wage -- as well as a wider just wage structure -- is best determined by negotiation via union recognition, collective bargaining, and regular contracts. In the absence of collective bargaining, a just wage can be encouraged by standardized guidelines featuring due process procedures in wage negotiations and disputes, as well as input via bodies chosen by the workers themselves (staff councils, advisory bodies, etc.). Regardless of union recognition, a just wage structure should include representation of workers in leadership positions (such as boards of directors) and opportunities for co-ownership (via stock options, e.g.).

What does CST say about wage structure reflecting worker participation?

“What is meant by the word “decent” in regard to work? It means work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community; work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination; work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labour; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.”
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (2009), 63

“Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area.”
-- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (1991), 15

“When man works, using all the means of production, he also wishes the fruit of this work to be used by himself and others, and he wishes to be able to take part in the very work process as a sharer in responsibility and creativity at the workbench to which he applies himself. / From this spring certain specific rights of workers, corresponding to the obligation of work. They will be discussed later. But here it must be emphasized, in general terms, that the person who works desires not only due remuneration for his work; he also wishes that, within the production process, provision be made for him to be able to know that in his work, even on something that is owned in common, he is working "for himself". This awareness is extinguished within him in a system of excessive bureaucratic centralization, which makes the worker feel that he is just a cog in a huge machine moved from above, that he is for more reasons than one a mere production instrument rather than a true subject of work with an initiative of his own.”
-- Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (1981), 15

"God is also careful to protect the justice of the demands of the organizations that have the right to organize for the mutual defense of their rights. God also approves of efforts to build unions.

God wants humankind to be united. God does not want us to be dispersed. God wants—as the pope has said—for peasants to be able to join together with other peasants and not be separated so that they might be an easily exploitable mass".
--Oscar Romero (1979), excerpted from Through the Year with Oscar Romero: Daily Meditations (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2015), 111.


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