The wages of many food workers around the world are so low, that they often cannot afford the food they are surrounded by the whole day. Workers in the Thai shrimp processing industry for example, can only dream of eating something as luxurious as seafood. The consequences of poverty wages are far-reaching for workers and their communities: workers are left with no other option than to work excessive overtime and send their children to work instead of school in order to provide for their basic needs. Living wages cover a decent standard of living for workers and their families. With a living wage, workers and their families can access education, healthcare and nutritious food. Amenities that enable them to lift themselves, and even their communities, out of poverty.
The Living Wage Lab follows a change lab approach: a social innovation process where stakeholders work together to be on the forefront of new developments and innovations that address the complex challenges they are trying to solve in a lasting and equitable way. Beyond technology, these innovations can be in public policy, new business models, framing of cultural values and behavioral change. Agrofood producing companies cannot solve the issue of low wages alone. That’s why the Living Wage Lab brings representatives from the government, trade unions, producing companies, retailers, NGOs, certification bodies and researchers together, to jointly tackle this issue.
In the words of Olav Boenders, director of a Dutch floriculture farm in Uganda: