‘Coordinated policy, multilateral leadership required to limit effects of COVID-19 on workers’


Swift and coordinated policy responses are needed at national and global levels, with strong multilateral leadership, to limit the direct health effects of COVID-19 on workers and their families, while mitigating the indirect economic fallout across the global economy, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

The ILO urged that protecting workers and their families from the risk of infection needed to be a top priority, while the demand-side measures to protect those facing income losses because of infection or reduced economic activity are critical to stimulating the economy.

A preliminary assessment by the labour force concerning the possible impacts of COVID-19 on the world of work, proposed a range of policy options to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and facilitate strong and fast recovery. 

The report stated that deeper institutional and policy reforms are also required to strengthen demand-led recovery to build resilience through robust and universal social protection systems that could act as automatic economic and social stabilizers in the face of crises.

This, the report said will also help to rebuild trust in institutions and governments.The ILO called for a tripartite social dialogue between governments, workers and employers’ organisations as an important tool for developing and implementing sustainable solutions, from the community level to the global level.

This, according to the assessment required strong, independent and democratic social partner organisations. It mentioned the Great Recession and other crises that have shown that countries could prevent the risk of a vicious downward cycle only through large-scale, coordinated and decisive policy measures.

It noted that the crisis has already transformed into an economic and labour market shock, impacting not only supply (production of goods and services) but also demand (consumption and investment). 

All businesses, regardless of size, the report said are facing serious challenges, especially those in the aviation, tourism and hospitality industries, with a real threat of significant declines in revenue, insolvencies and job losses in specific sectors, adding that sustaining business operations would be particularly difficult for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“Following travel bans, border closures and quarantine measures, many workers cannot move to their places of work or carry out their jobs, which has knock-on effects on incomes, particularly for informal and casually-employed workers. Consumers in many economies are unable or reluctant to purchase goods and services. Given the current environment of uncertainty and fear, enterprises are likely to delay investments, purchases of goods and the hiring of workers.

“Prospects for the economy and the quantity and quality of employment are deteriorating rapidly. While updated forecasts vary considerably – and largely underestimate the situation – they all point to a significant negative impact on the global economy, at least in the first half of 2020. These worrisome figures show growing signs of a global economic recession”, the report said.

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