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ILO calls for urgent policy measures to support businesses

01
May '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
The continued sharp decline in working hours due to COVID-19 means 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy , i.e., nearly half of the global workforce, are in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) cautioned recently. ILO has called for urgent, targeted and flexible measures to support workers and businesses, particularly smaller enterprises.

The situation has worsened in all major regions. “For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. [...] As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," ILO director general Guy Ryder said.

According to the ‘ILO Monitor third edition: COVID-19 and the world of work ‘, the drop in working hours in the second quarter of 2020 is expected to be significantly worse than previously estimated.

Compared to pre-crisis levels (the fourth quarter of 2019), a 10.5 per cent deterioration is now expected, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs (assuming a 48-hour working week). The previous estimate was for a 6.7 per cent drop, equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. This is due to the prolongation and extension of lockdown measures, ILO said in a press release.

Estimates suggest a 12.4 per cent loss of working hours in the second quarter this year for the Americas (compared to pre-crisis levels) and 11.8 per cent for Europe and Central Asia. The estimates for the rest of the regional groups follow closely and are all above 9.5 per cent.

As a result of the economic crisis created by the pandemic, almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers (representing the most vulnerable in the labour market), out of a worldwide total of two billion and a global workforce of 3.3 billion, have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living.

The first month of the crisis is estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 per cent in the income of informal workers globally. This translates into a drop of 81 per cent in Africa and the Americas, 21.6 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 70 per cent in Europe and Central Asia. Without alternative income sources, these workers and their families will have no means to survive, ILO said.

The proportion of workers living in countries under recommended or required workplace closures has decreased from 81 to 68 per cent over the last two weeks. The decline from the previous estimate of 81 per cent in the second edition of the monitor (published on April 7) is primarily a result of changes in China; elsewhere workplace closure measures have increased.

Worldwide, more than 436 million enterprises face high risks of serious disruption. These enterprises are operating in the hardest-hit economic sectors, including some 232 million in wholesale and retail, 111 million in manufacturing, 51 million in accommodation and food services, and 42 million in real estate and other business activities.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)


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