1st Edition

The Living Wage Advancing a Global Movement

Edited By Tony Dobbins, Peter Prowse Copyright 2022
    230 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    As wealth inequality skyrockets and trade union power declines, the living wage movement has become ever more urgent for public policymakers, academics, and – most importantly – those workers whose wages hover close to the breadline. A real living wage in any part of the world is rarely its minimum wage: it is the minimum income needed to cover living costs and participate fully in society. Most governments’ minimum wages are still falling short, meaning millions of workers struggle to cover their living costs.

    This book brings new, vital insights to the conversation from a carefully selected group of contributors at the forefront of this field. By juxtaposing advances across sectors and countries, and encompassing many different approaches and indeed definitions of the living wage, Dobbins and Prowse offer a rich tapestry of approaches that may inform public policy.

    By including the experiences and voices of those workers earning at, or near, the living wage alongside the opinions of leading experts in this field, this book is a pioneering contribution for public policymakers as well as students and academics of work and employment relations, public policy, organizational studies, social economics, and politics.

    1. Introduction

    Peter Prowse and Tony Dobbins

    Part 1: The Living Wage in the UK: Sector studies

    2. The Living Wage Foundation’s ‘Real Living Wage’ Campaign

    Daniel Howard

    3. The Real Living Wage and ‘The Good Employer’ in UK Football Clubs

    Peter Prowse and Tony Dobbins

    4. Outsourcing and the Living Wage: evidence from the UK

    Edmund Heery, Deborah Hann and David Nash

    5. Employer experiences of the Living Wage in the higher education, hospitality and construction sectors

    Calum Carson

    6. What About Care Work and In-Work Poverty? The Case of Care Workers in the UK

    Julie Prowse, Peter Prowse and Jereme Snook

    7. Making the Living Wage work in SMEs – Evidence from accredited employers in the UK hospitality sector

    Andrea Werner

    Part 2: The Living Wage in International Comparative Contexts

    8. The living wage and the European Union

    John Hurley

    9. Wages and working conditions in outsourced services in Europe

    Mathew Johnson and Karen Jaehrling

    10. Are collective bargaining models in the Nordic countries able to secure a living wage? Experiences from low wage industries

    Kristin Alsos and Kristine Nergaard

    11. The Living Wage, Fight for $15, and Low Wage Worker Campaigns in the U.S.

    Stephanie Luce

    12. The Living Wage Movement in Canada

    Danielle van Jaarsveld, Samantha Coronel and Reed Eaglesham

    13. The Belated Return of an Australian Living Wage: Reworking ‘A Fair Go’ for the 21st Century

    Joshua Healy, Andreas Pekarek and Ray Fells

    14. Employer and Employee Perspectives on the Living Wage in New Zealand

    James Arrowsmith, Jane Parker, Amanda Young-Hauser, Darrin Hodgetts, Jarrod Haar, Stuart Carr, and Siautu Tugia-Alefaio 

    15. Living Wage Initiatives in the Garment Sector: Insights from Southeast Asia

    Michele Ford and Michael Gillan

    16. Conclusion

    Tony Dobbins and Peter Prowse


    Tony Dobbins is Professor of Work and Employment Relations at University of Birmingham, UK. He is Visiting Professor at the University of Limerick, Ireland; the Centre for Labour Studies at the University of Malta; and president of the British Universities Industrial Relations Association. His research interests include the living wage and decent work.

    Peter Prowse is Professor in Human Resource Management and Employment Relations at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. His research interests include the living wage in care homes and football clubs, negotiating, work-life balance, and HR performance. He is a member of collaborative international research groups on the living wage.

    ‘The 20th anniversary of the Living Wage campaign in the UK is a moment to look back and reflect on what’s been achieved. This insightful new book does just that, as well as putting the movement in its international context.’

    Laura Gardiner, Director, Living Wage Foundation

    ‘This important new book contains new insights on living wage developments in the UK and around the world, and provides greater understanding of how the living wage is used as a policy to address low pay and inequality.’

    Stuart Wright, Chair, Living Wage Foundation Advisory Council and Group Property & Facilities Director, Aviva PLC

    ‘A fascinating account of the evolution of approaches to the living wage from an international perspective. This work is truly informative as we continue to seek solutions to income inequality across the UK.’

    Gill Dix, Head of Workplace Policy, Acas

    ‘Against a backdrop of increasing income inequality and declining trades union membership and the collective bargaining it makes possible, statutory national minimum wages – which establish a floor under wages, are set by the state, and are compulsory – and national living wages – which establish a basic but decent standard of living, are set by civil-society organisations, and are voluntary – have recently been introduced in several countries. This book provides important insights from a wide range of researchers and public policy experts into the history, operation, and impact of these wage initiatives not only in the UK but also globally. It is essential reading for academics, practitioners, policy makers, and others who want to improve the prospects of the low-paid.’

    Professor Sir George Bain, Founding Chair of the UK Low Pay Commission

    'Unions have always been at the forefront of the fight for a living wage. This insightful book charts the evolution of the living wage in the UK and around the globe. And it highlights the need for the living wage to sit alongside fundamental reform of our labour market – with stronger rights for working people and their unions'

    Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, TUC