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WageIndicator Gazette 19 - September 2008

Finnish nurses use WageIndicator for industrial action * Check ready for Decent Work Day October 7th * Flexible income – who’s afraid? * Working women in Argentina: 2 worlds apart * Guatemala and Paraguay jump online * 55+: ‘working is fun!’* German women engineers are no bridge builders * Post docs to foster WageIndicator methodology team.

Check ready for Decent Work Day October 7th
Decent Work figures prominently on the world agenda. October 7th is dedicated to the promotion of decent work standards worldwide. See World Day for Decent Work. WageIndicator contributes the newly developed Decentworkcheck.org. This check allows the public to compare their work situations with the legal standard in their country as well as the relevant international conventions. www.decentworkcheck.org is operational for 3 countries to begin with: India, the Netherlands and South Africa. The countries following suit first are Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.

The world of decent work is a complex one. It deals with issues such as: wages, health and safety, social security, pension rights. Many work life issues may now be checked in terms of their quality.

Finnish nurses use WageIndicator for industrial action
Finnish researcher Kimmo Kevätsalo compared earnings of 6,000 nurses, using the WageIndicator datasets from 6 EU-states. To his surprise the Finnish nurses were worst off. Not at first sight maybe, but once he included the effect of national price levels, the real picture emerged. Thus corrected for purchasing power Finnish nurses in 2007 earned only half the income of their colleagues in the UK, where real wages for nurses were the highest of the 6 countries compared.

These findings stimulated the Finnish Tehy trade union, which organizes the nurses, to undertake industrial action. Redressing this situation is now a spearhead of its policy. For the complete report see WageIndicator Publications 2008.

Flexible income – who’s afraid?
Employees whose income is to a larger extent flexible than average would prefer
less of the insecurity that comes along with it. This holds for the financial services sector, IT and chemistry. On the other hand workers in retail, agriculture, fisheries, textiles and clothing would welcome more of it. In these industries a flexible wage component is far less common.

The study, commissioned by FNV Bondgenoten in the Netherlands, covered more aspects of working life. A few other striking results are: 1.the lowly paid fear output-related wages less than the well-paid. 2. Elderly workers are less afraid of performance pay than young workers. Download report.

WageIndicator in Guatemala and Paraguay jump online
The present extension project into 4 additional Latin American countries shows dramatic progress in the outreach of Internet. Guatemala and Paraguay prove the point. These 2 countries would initially be brought in using paper surveys only, a choice guided by the very low Internet penetration of 7 and 3% respectively.

In the slipstream of bringing Chile and Colombia online Tusalario.org/Guatemala and Tusalario.org/Paraguay were launched in the second half of August. And within ten days they already attracted hundreds of visitors, without any prior marketing or promotion.

Working women in Argentina: 2 worlds apart
Suppose you are a young female in Argentina with secondary education. Now you have to choose your career. Well, if you’re in it for the money there are 3 tastes only: study financial services (go for of head of dept.), law or marketing. After 30 years you will earn close to 4 times more, 2.5 times more or almost twice as much compared to when you set off.

By stark contrast, receptionists, sales persons and travel agents after 30 years of experience earn less than when they started: 15 to 30%. Mind you, women in these latter occupations have finished secondary school, but apparently stopped studying then. And this is how the Argentine labor market punishes them.

The characteristics of the women in this study based on the Argentine WageIndicator dataset are chosen for representativeness of their occupational peer group.

Download report.

German women engineers are no bridge builders
On average female engineers in Germany are paid 17% less than their male colleagues – all other things being equal. This is one of the outcomes of a study based on income data provided by 7,000 engineers between 2005 and 2008. This relatively large pay gap is all the more surprising as these female engineers work in male dominated environments – situations which usually result in much smaller gender pay gaps. But in keeping with comparable studies from other EU-countries the salaries of female engineers tend to be higher in larger companies, as those of their male colleagues do. Check: www.frauenlohnspiegel.de

Children beget money
Highly educated (Dutch) fathers earn more than childless male employees of the same age. The difference in earnings is on average 25%. This emanates from a study based on data of 4250 Dutchmen with higher education. They completed the WageIndicator questionnaire in the last quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008.

Their children’s ages have no significant bearing on this outcome. Thus, once you are a father, your childless colleagues will have a hard time overtaking you. Download report.

Post docs to foster methodology team
Under the supervision of professors Richard Freeman (Harvard, USA) and Kea Tijdens (Erasmus, Netherlands) two post docs are to reinforce the methodology team of WageIndicator. Stephanie Steinmetz at the Department of Social Sciences at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherland will focus on the bias in the web survey. This bias results from the voluntary participation of data contributors and must be countered.

Damian Raess joins the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School on a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. He completed PhD at the University of Amsterdam. He will study workers’ and employers' responses to economic globalization. How do increased international trade and investment affect labor relations and standards? And how do labor market actors in different political economies respond to economic openness? The study includes developed and developing countries. It should provide insights into how to improve conditions worldwide, as well as into the varying political support for an open global economy.

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