Álvaro J. de Regil

President Lula’s Brazilian government, approaching the end of its second term, has just made a decision that is both transcendental and historical due to its paramount effectiveness in the reduction of poverty in a very meaningful manner and in the span of little more than a decade. Beginning in 2010 the Brazilian State intends to increase the real minimum wage annually, until 2023, following the simple rule of increasing nominal wages by applying the rate of inflation plus the GPD growth recorded two years earlier. Without a doubt, such policy will gradually transform Brazilian wages into living wages. In this way, Brazil commits to closing the wage gap prevailing between current Brazilian labour endowments, still undignified, and the living wage ethos prevailing in developed economies, within the current market context. This commitment makes the Brazilian State achieve a great deal of congruence with the most primeval raison d'être of any State that takes pride in being a democracy: the pursuit of the welfare of every rank of society, and especially of the dispossessed.

The Brazilian plan brings a great dose of encouragement for Jus Semper’s mission, for it exhibits rather strong affinity with our concept: The Living Wages North and South Initiative (TLWNSI); an initiative designed to close the wage gap between so-called developed and developing economies, through the gradual increase of real wages, by increasing nominal wages several percentage points above inflation. Our ebullience is unprecedented for TLWNSI has always argued that, unfortunately, the vast majority of so-called democratic governments have become market agents of the world’s capitalist system. Consequently, their performance typically favours institutional investors and their corporations. A second alternative to close the wage gap is the pressure of consumer power on businesses; an option until now unsuccessful, however, for the development of a responsible consumer culture is still in its infancy. Therefore, if by chance a State commits itself to closing the wage gap in its society, as is the case in Brazil, the setting could not be better to fulfil a fundamental human right in the context of real democracy, with the full power of the State: the right to a just and favourable remuneration ensuring the worker and his/her family an existence worthy of human dignity, as stipulated in Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In this manner, Jus Semper obtains conclusive evidence, and hardly surpassable, that provides a powerful argument to assert, convincingly, that the realisation of this human right is perfectly possible through the gradual closing of the wage gap, as proposed by TLWNSI, when a country counts with the resolute political will of the State.

Brief prepared on January 2010.. For a full review of this brief, click here or on the picture to download the pdf file.


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