Wages are among the most important conditions of work and a major subject of collective bargaining. The ILO is committed to promoting policies on wages and incomes that ensure a just share of the fruits of progress to all and a minimum living wage for all employed in need of such protection. In order to do so it undertakes research and provides evidence-based policy advice on minimum wages, public sector pay, wage bargaining, gender pay gaps, protection of wages including prevention and settlement of wages arrears and other wage-related issues.

Reducing inequality and promoting decent work for all women and men have been identified as key objectives in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted at the United Nations in 2015. Sustainable Development Goal N.8 calls for “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, and highlights the importance of achieving equal pay for work of equal value, and protecting labour rights. Goal N.10 seeks to “reduce inequality within and among countries”, emphasizing income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population, the elimination of discrimination, as well as the adoption of policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality. Well-designed and effective wage policies that reflect the specific circumstances of the different countries and correspond to their level of economic and social development can contribute to these objectives.

Over the past few years there has been a growing recognition of the need to monitor wage trends and implement sustainable wage policies that prevent wage stagnation, raise levels of pay for the millions of working poor around the world, ensure fair distribution, reduce excessive wage and income inequalities, and buttress consumption as a key pillar of sustainable economies. Governments from all parts of the world, as well as employers' and workers' organizations, have also recently asked the ILO for information on a wide range of practical issues regarding the minimum wage fixing.

Although all the countries of the sub-region have a legal minimum wage, only three have ratified the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 (No. 131): Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. However, four more countries (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation) have recently reformed or are planning to reform their minimum wage fixing machinery. The protection of wages remains also an important issue in the sub-region as tens of thousands of workers face wage arrears and losses in case of employer’s insolvency are not uncommon. Only six countries have so far ratified the Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 (No. 95) and two countries the Protection of Workers' Claims (Employer's Insolvency) Convention, 1992 (No. 173).

ILO Decent Work Team and Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia is currently providing support to its constituents to:
  • Strengthen their capacities to reform wage systems and wage policies through social dialogue.
  • Increase their capacities on collective bargaining on wages in accordance with Conventions No. 98 and 154.
  • Reform the civil servants’ remuneration system with the view to harmonizing or unifying the payment scales and reducing unjustified differentiation of wages.
  • Improve the minimum wage fixing mechanism in particular through evidence-based social dialogue.
  • Exchange information on policies implemented in other countries in order to prevent and settle wages arrears.
  • Exchange information on approaches to wage differentiation, and in particular disclosure of information about wages and methods used to set or regulate the remuneration of top-managers.
Our main messages are that an efficient wage-setting mechanism should take empirical evidence into account, that social dialogue can help find the balance between the legitimate needs of both workers and enterprises and that special attention should be paid to coverage and compliance issues in order to make sure that no one is left behind.