WageIndicator Gazette - 11 - June 2006

The first World Wide Wages conference in Amsterdam brought together 17 WageIndicator teams between June 21 and 27 - 2006.

Related page: World Wide WageIndicator meeting June 21,22,23,24

Growth target: 25 countries in 2008
A further growth of the international WageIndicator project to include 25 countries in 2008 as compared to the present 17, seems realistic. These new countries are China, Japan, Canada, France, Ireland, Austria, Norway, Russia and Turkey. In all of those contacts exist with media partners and research institutes. The idea behind this ambition is to seize the apparent opportunity for becoming the world’s standard in online work-life & wage research. This ambition was first voiced by Agnes Jongerius, chairperson of FNV and founding mother of the Wage Indication Foundation, in her opening address at the plenary session. In his contribution, Marc de Vries, director northern Europe of co-founder Monster, endorsed this ambition. He drew a parallel with the growth of Monster over the past 10 years to its presence in 25 countries in 2006.

One survey for both formal and informal workers
We do not care how you define the informal economy in your country. As long as you have a very clear definition. Thus research coordinator prof. Kea Tijdens resolved a hotly debated issue, i.e. the approach of the informal economy through an internet survey. She went on to explain: We can always identify in the data set the respondents from the total population who apparently fall into the category of informal workers as defined by you. Moreover, we can compare them to the formal workers, as both groups completed the same questionnaire.

Relevant identifying questions might be: Do you have a work permit? Do you pay for social insurance? Do you have a contract on paper with your employer? Do you work in a company with less or more than 5 employees? Are you selfemployed and do your pay taxes? Such few simple questions also help to get around the fact that informal workers do not know what it means when asked: are you an informal worker? Using the data set, it can be studied to what extend the informal labour force is defined along two or even more definitions. Moreover, once the informal workforce is identified in the data set for a country, it allows for a comparison of the informal and formal labour force, for example to what extend they are both harassed by the police. Especially the delegates from Brazil and India, countries with huge informal economies, were satisfied with the simplicity of the solution.

On top the WageIndicator technical support team came up with a trick to get online and offline (print) completed questionnaires under the same conditions in the (inter) national data sets.

Harvard tackles the bias in internet data intake
When WorklifeWizard will be officially launched on Labour Day in the US in September, the American questionnaire in its core of approx. 50 questions contains a small set taken from the Current Population Survey. That is a classic random sample, giving representative results. In this way Isabelle Ferreras and Jason Anastasopoulos from the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program want to check the bias induced by non-random internet sampling. It will be a welcome methodological addition to the weighting already carried out on the substantial datasets in some EU-countries. Moreover Harvard Law School introduces Special Research Modules, which rotate over time, addressing worklife themes that are all but neglected by the major American data collection institutions. All this – and more - should help to create an Observatory of worklife, a source of information on virtually all work related issues, including an index of work related blogs.

WageIndicator research (Woliweb): Job insecurity in 6 EU countries
The University of Salamanca used the Spanish data set to find out more about feelings of job insecurity. Greatest surprise: elderly workers with a permanent contract suffer most!

WageIndicator Research (Woliweb): Collective agreements in 7 EU-countries
The German WSI presented the first results of their investigation into bargaining coverage in 7 EU-countries. They found peak coverage in most public sectors, as well in utilities and manufacturing. In general workers under a collective agreement receive higher wages - apart from Poland and The Netherlands.

WageIndicator research (Equal): Gender Pay Gap in Belgium
HIVA- Leuven University found out that – at least in Belgium – the persistent gender pay gap is accounted for more than 50% by job related characteristics. Next come company size, personal characteristics and last come attitudes towards career and work life balance. This outcome matches quite well with the outcome of earlier research on the Dutch WageIndicator dataset.

WageIndicator Research (Woliweb): Overtime in Germany and The Netherlands
A study of the University of Amsterdam on the WageIndicator data set showed a remarkable similarity in patters of overwork between the Dutch and German labour markets. Low paid workers tend to put in extra hours to upgrade their family income, whereas those in the upper income brackets as a rule do make extra paid hours which are not reimbursed. In those circles unpaid overwork seems to be a matter of getting the work done and presumably career expectations.

WageIndicator Research: Multinationals in 7 countries
At a special workshop Erasmus University Rotterdam presented the newly developed Multinational Entreprise Chooser. This chooser is included in the questionnaire and allows for focussed research into multinational enterprises with production facilities in different countries. It links the WageIndicator to the SCOPE database which covers financial and strategic information of the world’s largest non-financial enterprises.

Marketing the websites through trade union channels
In terms of data intake, Finland seemed to be dormant for almost a whole year. And just before the World Wide Wages conference, Finland surprised all with record breaking intake. 1700 completed questionnaires per day. Researcher Kimmo Kevätsalo explained part of the success lay in careful preparation of approaching key figures in trade union circles. Michelle Medeiros Rodrigues from MeuSalario in Brazil contributed supporting evidence that a well prepared trade union approach brings spectacularly high data intake. The future website launch had been discussed during official trade union meetings in hundreds of unions throughout Brazil. After endorsement, the word was spread. And also in the Brazilian case accompanyingfree publicity was sought and found!

Trade unions should not claim exclusivity
Claiming exclusivity is not a very clever thing to do, said FNV chairperson Agnes Jongerius, confronting the issue of the relationship between trade unions and the national WageIndicators. Involvement, yes, but directing the development no. The FNV chairperson: in the Netherlands WageIndicator websites were visited in 2005 by 2.4 million unique visitors. FNV unions organise a total of 1.2 million. This means that through the WageIndicator unions may improve their outreach. Jongerius also stressed the importance of forming broad national coalitions supporting the WageIndicator, even if those coalitions include your direct trade union competitors.

Pictures from the conference

Please find at this link pictures from the WageIndicator Conference June 2006.

Pictures by Reinhard Bispinck.

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