During my recent trip to New York, I had lunch with Olivier de Schutter, the Belgian legal scholar serving as the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
De Schutter had just delivered a speech at the UN headquarters in which he warned of the dire situation facing the world’s “working poor”, who are below the poverty line despite being employed.
Their ranks include millions of struggling workers in developing nations, he noted — but also people working for some of the biggest and most profitable companies in the US.
In letters made public this week, de Schutter wrote to ecommerce giant Amazon, retailer Walmart and food delivery service DoorDash, highlighting allegations about inadequate treatment of workers, especially those without permanent contracts, including “gig workers”. He also wrote to the US government to highlight the allegations, as well as wider concerns about the situation of low-paid workers in the country.