Inequality Fighters: Wages

Meet the inequality fighters: working hard to stop the war on our wages

Wherever you are in the world, inequality is affecting you. The rich are getting richer while the poor and the planet are paying the price. Inequality has reached extreme levels that make it one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Meet extraordinary people fighting inequality. The fight for a fairer world starts with people like them. 

Inequality Fighters
Garment factory, Bangladesh. Nicola Bailey/ActionAid

Shamima Nasreen, 45, from Bangladesh works in factories that make fashion clothes. She tells us,“We get the lowest wage in South Asia. This is because most of the profit that the owners make is for their welfare, not for the workers who produce for them. They only have to minimize the amount of profit a little bit. Even after the Rana Plaza tragedy [in which a factory collapse killed 1,000 people, mostly women and girls], they are not protecting worker’s rights. ”

Not far away in the Philippines, Massimo is a technician in a factory. He explains “We produce a small metal part usable in Samsung technology. The safety in our company is very bad. I don’t have any goggles to use in grinding machines. The Samsung representative in the factory doesn’t mind about workers conditions, their duty is to check their product, not the workers.”

How has it come to this?

Between 2010 and 2013, developing country economies grew almost twice as fast as the wages workers earn. While rich corporations rake in record profits and pay their top executives excessive rewards, workers are taking home a rapidly decreasing share.

And despite living in some of the richest countries in the world, many workers even in wealthy countries are getting poverty wages that aren’t enough to support their families.

Around the world workers face crackdowns on a right to organise and collectively bargain. For millions of people, the consequences of standing up against unfair conditions can be total loss of income, and for some persecution. Samsung, where Massimo works, imposes a ban on unions by threatening to cancel contracts.

This continues because the richest and most powerful corporations and individuals have massive power to bend the rules in their favour. They won’t change a system that works for them.

Shared hope

That’s why the rest of us must unite to demand change. People like Shamima and Massimo are taking the power back, and giving us hope.

Shameema chairs the Shadhin Bangla Garments Sramik Karmachari Federation, leading women garment workers to stand up for decent working conditions, child day-care centres and a living wage. Their protests have sometimes lead to injuries, But she can’t give up. She has even spoken at the World Trade Organisation about the lives of garment workers like her.

Massimo built up the union in his factory to improve the workers’ salaries and medical support. He is standing up for workers rights in tough conditions.

Join Shameema and Massimo and Fight Inequality

Inspired by these struggles to overcome inequality and injustice, we are coming together from Jan 14th for the #FightInequality global week of action. We are demanding a better future where our governments fight inequality.

Alone we may be weak, but together we are powerful. Join the fight against inequality. We’re on the brink of something huge.