Three reports published recently set new living wage benchmarks for rural South Africa, the Dominican Republic, and Malawi. The reports, commissioned by Fairtrade International (Western Cape, South Africa); Fairtrade and Social Accountability International (Dominican Republic); and Fairtrade, the Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance, and Utz Certified (Malawi) have been prepared by international experts Richard and Martha Anker, who are pioneering a new living wage methodology.
The detailed reports document worker needs in a simple, transparent way that everyone can understand, and explain exactly what workers would be able to afford for themselves and their families if they were paid the estimated living wage. They also compare living wage estimates with current wages and include innovative ways to estimate fair and reasonable values for in-kind benefits.
Workers and employers in all three countries participated in the process to set the living wage benchmarks, and have given predominantly very positive feedback on the findings. The Ankers investigated the actual costs of workers on South African wine grape farms, Dominican Republic banana farms, and Malawi tea farms.
The teams visited markets where workers shop for food, visited workers homes, had discussions with workers as well as small farm owners, cooperative officers, plantation managers and owners, municipal officials, trade union members, university professors, architects, and others. They also used many papers, reports, and statistics from researchers, government agencies, and international organizations.