Research and analysis to provoke public awareness and critical thinking

We contribute to the liberalisation of the democratic instituions of society, for they have been captured by the owners of the market. They work in tandem with their market agents, who, posing as public servants, are entrenched in the halls of government. The political class has betrayed its public mandate and instead operates to impose a marketocratic state to maximise the shareholder value of the institutional investors of international financial markets. They own the global corporations and think they own the world on behalf of their very private interest.

Our spheres of action: true democracy – true sustainability – living wage – basic income – inequality – ecological footprint – degrowth – global warming –human development – corporate accountability – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, responsible consumption, sustainable autonomous citizen cells...

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Parting from an ethos of true democracy and true sustainability, We, the citizenry, work to advance the paradigm whose only purpose is to go in pursuit of the welfare of People and Planet and NOT the market.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – PPP Wage rate gaps for selected "developed and emerging" economies for all employed in manufacturing workers (1996 up to 2016).

Overall, seven out of the twelve countries in this assessment are better off in 2016 than in 1996. Brazil shows no change and Canada, Mexico, Germany and the UK are worse than in 1996. East Asian economies record the greatest gains in their wage-rate position. Singapore and South Korea have recorded the most improvement in the reduction of their wage gaps since 1996. In contrast, Canada has recorded the greatest decline, followed by the United Kingdom. Both remain at their lowest point since 1996. Germany continues to have the best position with an actual advantage vis-à-vis the U.S. in PPP wage rates. Yet it remains with an index eight points below its best position.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Argentina's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Our analysis of Argentina’s living wages in the manufacturing sector from a global perspective (purchasing power parities) can no longer assume that Argentina’s government will continue to regard the appreciation of real wages as a fundamental element of its economic policy. Unfortunately, with the Macri government, as we expected, we are already witnessing the opposite, given that its economic policies are clearly supply-side and completely committed to resuming the old centre-periphery relationship that applies a neocolonial ethos to Argentina’s economic policies. Unfortunately for him, his economic policies have proven disastrous and in two and a half years, inflation and devaluation have exploded, the country is nearly in default and real wages have collapsed. We are confident that the equalisation index for 2018 will drop very meaningfully and extend the number of years that it will take to close the living wage gap with equivalent workers in the US. In our report, the gap would have been closed in our mid-inflation projection by 2022, now it would take until 2025. As for the high-inflation the gap would have been closed by 2026, now it would take until 2032.

The above notwithstanding, the two projections included in this analysis clearly show that Argentina can achieve a living-wage equalisation in the manufacturing sector within fourteen years or less, “if” it is able to control inflation and generate a minimally meaningful economic growth, as outlined in the criteria applied in both projections.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Brazil's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Brazil has no longer sustained the closing of its Eq-Idx due to the deep recession that has ensued in the last years. Furthermore, Brazil’s Temer government passed a new law (PEC 55) that freezes all public spending for 20 years, which implies that constitutionally-protected government expenditures in the areas of health, education and other social sectors would remain stunted until 2036. This has in practice ended Brazil’s minimum wage appreciation policy.

Parting from the implications carried by the —already abrogated— plan of Brazil’s government to increase minimum wages in a sustainable manner up to 2023 –and using as the benchmark Brazil’s workers in the manufacturing sector– it can be asserted that the policy to be applied would generate, in all certainty, rather meaningful social and economic benefits in all economic sectors if this policy were to be reactivated.

Although Brazil’s plan would have not closed whatsoever the living wage gap with the United States by 2023, it would have undoubtedly embodied a meaningful improvement that would have triggered different multiplying effects that would have generated the endogenous development of Brazil. This would have placed it closer to the socioeconomic indicators of developed than of developing countries. With Dilma Rousseff’s government ousted, the Temer government immediately changed the policy and applied increases to the minimum wage below inflation in 2017 and 2018. This may change if the new presidential election returns power to Brazil’s Workers Party. There is currently a major convoluted political crisis. Lula da Silva —the leading candidate in the election— has been put in prison, with a 12 year sentence— for alleged corruption charges that have not been proven yet— and barred from running in the election. The second in the race is Jair Bolsonaro —from the far right populist sector, who was stabbed in a recent rally and is convalescing from the injury. Consequently, given the deep political polarisation of Brazil’s society, it is impossible to foresee the outcome and how this will affect the minimum wage policy and manufacturing wages.

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Living-wage assessment – Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for twelve economies, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, for all employed in manufacturing. *(The base table used for all PPP real-wage gap analysis)

Nominal wage rates in dollars continued to decrease in 2016 at the same rate as in 2014, averaging a drop of 12,5%, vis-à-vis 12,6% in 2014. This is due to a great extent to the devaluation of these currencies against the dollar. Furthermore, most wage rates in local currencies increased at a lower rate than the 5,4% increase of the U.S. hourly wage rate. As a result, most equalisation indices continued dropping. Only Italy and South Korea sustained their 2014 indices and Singapore was the only one of the twelve economies selected that was able to increase its index in 2016.

Since 2012 only three economies did not increase their equalisation gaps. Germany kept the same index and Italy and Singapore improved their equalisation. Of the twelve selected economies, four are worse off than in 1996, Brazil did not change and seven are better off than in 1996.

Overall, East Asia economies have fared far better than the rest.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Mexico's wage rate gap 1996-2016

Mexico’s fraudulent government, fixated on the precarisation of Mexican society, continues to deliberately violate the entire spectrum of civil, political, economic, social, environmental and cultural rights of their citizenry. However, things may change for the better very soon.

With the electoral victory of López Obrador in 2018, things are planned to marginally change for the better for workers. In his Government Plan, he states that the minimum wage will be increased by 15,6% annually, plus inflation, until reaching P$171,00 by the end of his six-year term. This is a plan similar to Lula’s plan in Brazil, and precisely what we have been proposing for over a decade.

For the first time in more than three decades, real wages across the entire economy may change for the better if the new government that starts on 1st December 2018, keeps its promise and increases the minimum wage as planned by 15,6% plus inflation annually. There is no doubt that powerful domestic business lobbies will attempt to exert maximum pressure to force the new government to increase nominal wages at a far lower pace than planned. For instance, COPARMEX, the National Confederation of Employers, is already pushing for an 11% increase for 2019 including inflation. However, given that it is widely known in Mexican society that, after 36 years of deliberate wage pauperisation, Mexico’s minimum wage has become one of the lowest in the world, as low as in Nicaragua, there is enormous pressure to change this immediately, In fact, after more than thirty years of a minimum wage increase below annual inflation or strictly in line with it, the current government was forced to raise the minimum wage for 2017 by 9,6% vis-á-vis a 2,8% inflation in 2016, and for 2018 by 10,4% vis-à-vis 6,6% inflation in 2017. We will see if the upcoming government will indeed comply with its promise and implement a well-articulated policy that meaningfully recovers real wages for the entire economy throughout its six-year term.

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2018 Report: Living-wage assessment – New assessment of Spain's wage rate gap 1996-2016

To put Spain’s living wage rate position in a European perspective, only four economies recorded gains in 2016 vis-à-vis 2014, two recorded no change, whilst Spain and fifteen others recorded a widening of their living-wage gap with equivalent U.S. wages. Overall, as with most countries, wage equalisation in Spain’s manufacturing sector has stagnated, but extremely high unemployment and the deliberate neoliberal job casualisation policy remain its most conspicuous features.

In line with the drastic government-induced depression of the Spanish economy –with the evident ulterior motive of imposing the further privatisation of its Welfare State– Spain’s planned process of convergence with the major economies of the EU has stalled since 2012. The Equalisation Index (Eq-Idx) of Spain’s manufacturing sector wage rates have reached a plateau, which, in line with Germany, France and Italy, have experienced little or no change since 2012. Only the United Kingdom seems to keep sliding its Eq-Idx further down.

There is, however, some gleam of hope for a change. The European Commission rhetoric changed in 2016 from wage erosion to increase competitiveness, resulting in a systematic depression of internal demand, increasing wage inequality and generating a sluggish economic recovery, to put some emphasis in the generation of internal demand, which requires the support of growth of real wages. This may explain why Spain’s minimum wages finally increased meaningfully in 2017 and 2018. However, further growth has been conditioned to a GDP growth of at least 2,5% and the creation of not less than 450 thousand new jobs, which makes it dubious that there will be the political will, even in the new socialist government, to support wage growth. Nonetheless, there is a strong push from the European Trade Union Confederation for a wage-led growth (and solidarity to reduce inequality), instead of internal devaluation for a sound economic recovery.

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Living-wage assessment Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for twenty-one European economies.

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Living-wage assessment Table T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-rate gaps for eight Asia and Oceania economies.

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Living-wage assessmentTable T5: 1996-2016 Real wage-gap rates for the four largest economies in the Americas (Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina).

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To Radically Change the Prevailing Social Order

On the 200th anniversary of Marx's birthday, The 170th of the Communist Manifesto and the 160th of the Grundrisse

In this paper the author refers to the method that Marx contributed to in order to have a coherent and objective view of today's society —and thus avoid a subjective and arbitrary vision of it— to the leading role that corresponds to the oppressed and exploited ones, for their radical transformation and the necessary confluence in the struggles for this transformation of all sectorial demands.

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The Degrowth Alternative

Both the name and the theory of degrowth aim explicitly to re-politicise environmentalism. Sustainable development and its more recent reincarnation “green growth” depoliticise genuine political antagonisms between alternative visions for the future. They render environmental problems technical, promising win-win solutions and the impossible goal of perpetuating economic growth without harming the environment. Ecologising society, degrowthers argue, is not about implementing an alternative, better, or greener development. It is about imagining and enacting alternative visions to modern growth-based development. This essay explores such alternatives and identifies grassroots practices and political changes for facilitating a transition to a prosperous and equitable world without growth.

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Global Wage Report 2016/2017

The 2016/17 edition examines inequality at the workplace level, providing empirical evidence on the extent to which wage inequality is the result of wage inequality between enterprises as well as within enterprises. The report also includes a review of key policy issues regarding wages.

Over the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the need to monitor wage trends and implement sustainable wage policies that prevent wage stagnation, raise levels of pay for the millions of working poor around the world, ensure fair distribution, reduce excessive wage and income inequalities, and buttress consumption as a key pillar of sustainable economies. Where incomes have grown and income inequality has been reduced, this has frequently come about as the result of a combination of more jobs in paid employment for low-income households and a more equitable wage distribution. The role of labour markets and wages in reducing poverty and inequality has also been highlighted in the first edition of the World Bank’s annual flagship report, Poverty and shared prosperity (World Bank, 2016).

Second, wages matter for economic and political reasons. At the level of enterprises, the wages of paid employees represent a cost. But at the macroeconomic level, sustainable wage growth is central to maximizing aggregate demand. While excessive wage growth may lead to price inflation and declining exports or investment, weak wage growth can represent a drag on household consumption and domestic demand – a prospect that is particularly relevant in the current global economic context characterized by slow growth. Excessive inequality tends to contribute to lower economic growth and less social cohesion (Ostry, Berg and Tsangarides, 2014; d’Hombres, Weber and Elia, 2012). It can also lead to political polarization: a recent IMF report pointed out that in some countries the nature of political discussions had shifted as a result of “growing income inequality as well as structural shifts, some connected with globalization, that are seen as having favoured economic elites while leaving others behind” (IMF, 2016a, p. xiii).

Last but not least, wages are about more than money; they matter from the point of view of fairness and human dignity. The ILO has long emphasized that “labour is not a commodity” and that, this being so, the price of labour cannot be determined purely and simply through the application of the rule of supply and demand (see ILO, 1944 and 2014a). As pointed out by Piketty, “the price system knows neither limits nor morality” (2014, p. 6). Minimum wages play an important role in ensuring that workers are treated in a way that is fair and compatible with notions of human dignity and respect. Over and above minimum wage levels, policies in the areas of wages, hours and other conditions of work can contribute substantially to fostering social dialogue and collective bargaining, and ensuring a just share of the fruits of progress to all (ILO, 2008a). Fairness includes equal remuneration for work of equal value, and the elimination of pay discrimination between men and women, or between other groups.

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Human Development Indices and Indicators — 2018 ststitical update

Inequalities in human development —a grave challenge to progress. — Going beyond the average achievements, the IHDI and disaggregated assessments reveal large inequalities across human development dimensions. When the HDI is adjusted for inequalities, the global HDI value falls 20 percent


Human development is about human freedoms. It is about building human capabilities—not just for a few, not even for most, but for everyone. In 1990 UNDP published the first Human Development Report (HDR). Since then, it has produced more than 800 global, regional, national and subnational HDRs and organized hundreds of workshops, conferences and other outreach initiatives to foster human development. These activities have extended the frontiers of analytical thinking about human progress beyond economic growth, firmly placing people and human well-being at the centre of development policies and strategies.

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Farewell to Development

An Interview with Arturo Escobar

As inequality and environmental degradation worsen, the search is on not only for alternative development models but also for alternatives to development itself. Leading post-development theorist Arturo Escobar, co-editor of The Post-Development Dictionary and author of Design for the Pluriverse, discusses the fight for pluralism and justice in Latin America with Allen White, Senior Fellow at the Tellus Institute.

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Value transfer and human degradation in an automotive enterprise cluster in Mexico

The purpose of this paper is to explain the labour precarisation processes as a sine qua non condition of capitalism in its neoliberal phase, which allows enterprises with low organic capital composition to generate enough value to transfer it to enterprises with high organic composition. This work is carried out parting from the assessment of the working conditions of the operational workers of a company that supplies services to an automotive cluster in Mexico. Through a qualitative methodology it is demonstrated that the working conditions are not only precarious, but also inhuman. They degrade the essence of the work proper and all the attributes of the subject [worker], and they take it to the extreme point of deprecation, in such a way that they deny his/her physiological and biological characteristics.
 



 

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The Long Ecological Revolution

No revolutionary movement exists in a vacuum; it is invariably confronted with counterrevolutionary doctrines designed to defend the status quo. In our era, ecological Marxism or ecosocialism, as the most comprehensive challenge to the structural crisis of our times, is being countered by capitalist ecomodernism—the outgrowth of an earlier ideology of modernism, which from the first opposed the notion that economic growth faced natural limits. If ecosocialism insists that a revolution to restore a sustainable human relation to the earth requires a frontal assault on the system of capital accumulation—and that this can only be accomplished by more egalitarian social relations and more consciously coevolutionary relations to the earth—ecomodernism promises precisely the opposite. Ecological contradictions, according to this ideology, can be surmounted by means of technological fixes and continued rapid growth in production, with no fundamental changes to the structure of our economy or society. The prevailing liberal approach to ecological problems, including climate change, has long put capital accumulation before people and the planet. It is maintained that through new technologies, demographic shifts (such as population control), and the mechanisms of the global free market, the existing system can successfully address the immense ecological challenges before us. In short, the solution to the ecological crises produced by capitalist accumulation is still more capitalist accumulation. All the while, we have been rapidly nearing the climate cliff (i.e., the breaking of the carbon budget) represented by the trillionth metric ton of carbon released into the atmosphere, now less than twenty years away if current trends continue.

In these dire circumstances, it is dispiriting but not altogether surprising that some self-styled socialists have jumped on the ecomodernist bandwagon, arguing against most ecologists and ecosocialists that what is required to address climate change and environmental problems as a whole is simply technological change, coupled with progressive redistribution of resources. Here again, the Earth System crisis is said not to demand fundamental changes in social relations and in the human metabolism with nature. Rather it is to be approached in instrumentalist terms as a formidable barrier to be overcome by means of extreme technology.

How then are we to see the necessary ecological and social revolution of our time? Today, the growing awareness of such problems, and of the inescapable human connection to the natural world as a whole, has led scientists to explore more sustainable forms of development, as in agroecology, bio-mimicry, and systems of ecological resilience. The overarching goal of an ecological society, Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams write in their new book Creating an Ecological Society, is to maintain the long-term health of the biosphere while equitably providing for human needs. This is not an impossible task, but it does require the development of science at a higher level—one not simply concerned with mechanical manipulation of the earth and its inhabitants for private gain, but founded on the understanding and concern for the complex collectivities that constitute living systems and human life itself. This requires ecological planning, but that in turn is only possible if social relations also change, reconceiving freedom in terms of needs deeper and wider than those of individual self-interest in a commodity economy.

But to achieve these things, we will need to break with business as usual, that is, with the current logic of capital, and introduce an entirely different logic, aimed at the creation of a fundamentally different social metabolic system of reproduction. To overcome centuries of alienation of nature and human labour, including the treatment of the global environment and most people—divided by class, gender, race, and ethnicity—as mere objects of conquest, expropriation, and exploitation, will require nothing less than a long ecological revolution, one which will necessarily entail victories and defeats and ever-renewed striving, occurring over centuries. It is a revolutionary struggle, though, that must commence now with a worldwide movement toward ecosocialism—one capable from its inception of setting limits on capital. This revolt will inevitably find its main impetus in an environmental proletariat, formed by the convergence of economic and ecological crises and the collective resistance of working communities and cultures—a new reality already emerging, particularly in the global South.

 

In the long ecological revolution before us, the world will necessarily proceed from one earthly struggle to another. If the advent of the Anthropocene tells us anything, it is that humanity, through a single-minded pursuit of economic gain benefitting a relative few, is capable of producing a fatal rift in the biogeochemical cycles of the planet. It is time therefore to find another path: one of sustainable human development. This constitutes the entire meaning of revolution in our time.

 

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Mexico’s Wages 2018 - 2024: To Change So That Everything Remains The Same —
Real Wages appear to remain dwindling crumbs in an ethos of Neoliberal Populism —
The rhetoric end of the Modern Slave Ethos advanced by the“progressive” wage policy of Mexico’s new government is a travesty of what it boasts to portray

CONCLUSIONS


• The campaign promise on wages was not fulfilled. The real wage increase was substantially smaller than what was offered during the electoral campaign.

• There is no political will to make a minimum wage recovering policy a firm commitment by passing specific legislation for that end.

• The general wage increase benefits only one-sixth of salaried people for it was strictly limited to the general minimum wage, relegating the 59 minimum wage rates for professional activities to an increase to offset CPI inflation, the same wage contention policy of the last 36 years.

• It would be a great mistake to eliminate minimum wage rates for the 59 professional activities; activities require greater physical and intellectual capacities and skills than those required for activities of the general minimum wage. Assigning the same compensation criteria to professional activities would not only be greatly unfair and further depress their purchasing power and quality of life, but they would have a profound and negative multiplying effect in many other activities that require greater capacities in the upper echelons of skilled work, particularly in the manufacturing sector, which receives the highest labour compensations.

• López Obrador recanted on his commitment to recover real wages and returned to the neoliberal dogma, for he returned to conditioning any increase of wages to a concurrent increase in productivity. This sets a very ominous precedent that can only be construed as a recantation of his view on the need to address the fact that wages have lost 75% of their purchasing power as a result of a deliberate policy of wage pauperisation.

• López Obrador has established a strong partnership with the historic predators of real wages. The strong personal partnership of López Obrador with the business oligarchy, his old nemesis, can only be construed as an alliance to support the very group that has fervently worked with previous governments to deliberately pauperise wages for the last thirty-six years.

• From the global economy perspective, manufacturing wages will remain at their lowest level in the manufacturing sector, because if professional minimum wages remain losing value, higher skilled wages in the manufacturing sector, integrated with the global economy, will remain at the same level they have been since the 1990s after they were deliberately pauperised to become the main driver of foreign investment with NAFTA.

• Unless there is radical change, Mexico will lose manufacturing share under the new NAFTA. This is a particularly important issue, in light of the new NAFTA 2.0, which incorporated an agreement to increase the North American content.

• The above notwithstanding, López Obrador still has ninety-five percent of his term to amend his policies and attempt to truly transform the country by replacing the structures of exploitation and depredation with a radical new paradigm in pursuit of the welfare of people and the planet and NOT the market. We remain in hope.

 

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Invisible Exploitation – How Capital Extracts Value Beyond Wage Labour


The Marxist analysis of work under capitalism has long been associated with a preoccupation with wage labour: waged workers as wage-slaves, industrial workers as the revolutionary proletariat, and factory workers as the vanguard. The labour theory of value has been widely seen as applying to the wage form of work and no other. But Marx’s own writings describe other forms of labour under capitalism, and Marxist theorists have long pushed to expand our understanding of exploitation beyond the classic waged relations of production.

Capitalists have always used more than the wage form alone to extract surplus product from workers. However, this century is particularly distinguished by its growing reliance on alternate methods of extracting surplus. It’s time for Marxists to rethink our preoccupation with the wage and develop a theory encompassing a common ground of exploitation across a wide variety of extractive relations under capitalism. A recognition of that shared exploitation may prove key if the exploited “class-in-itself” is to become a “class-for-itself,” able to unite and act in solidarity.

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