With the upcoming European elections, political parties on the left like the Party of European Socialists, the European Left and the European Green party are paying lip service to the call for a European minimum wage policy (European Green Party, 2010; European Left, 2014; PES, 2012). Such a policy would serve as a first step in the development of a more social Europe, enhance the legitimacy of the Union and could contribute to a wage-driven growth model for Europe. In this column we do not go into detail about the economic and social aspects of such a policy, but focus on the campaigning for a European minimum wage. A European minimum wage policy would mean a radical shift in the policy orientation of the Union and by consequence, the campaign for such a policy will be long and exhausting. Luckily, the European left can learn from two very recent and largely successful minimum wage campaigns in Europe: Germany and Switzerland. In Switzerland the campaign is still running while in Germany the current coalition is planning to implement a legal minimum wage in 2015.
Globalisation of production has been accompanied by a rise of informal and insecure work across different regions of the world, even in formal establishments. Yet, the role of labour has received scant attention in both the governance and analyses of global production networks (GPNs). Therefore, activists and scholars have demanded a “sea-change in the international business model and the active participation of informed and empowered workers” (Brown 2013: 5) that needs to be flanked by an analytical framework that puts workers’ agency at the centre.
This has motivated us to analyse the Freedom of Association Protocol, a voluntary initiative (VI) that has been implemented in the Indonesian sportswear industry since 2011. In that year, Indonesian exports of leather and leather goods peaked, generating more than 230 million USD in revenues (Statistics Indonesia 2014: 107). Overall, more than 600,000 workers were employed in the footwear industry in the same year, including production for the domestic market (CCC 2014). In export factories manufacturing footwear for Nike alone, one of the largest foreign buyers, more than 128,000 workers are currently employed, the vast majority of which are women workers (Nike 2014).