Workers may lose $3.4 trillion income to COVID-19, says ILO

By Collins Olayinka, (Abuja) and Sulaimon Salau, Lagos |   27 March 2020   |   4:13 am  

Guy Ryder

…Pandemic exposes fragility of global economy
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has disclosed that about 25 million people would become unemployed, while over $3.4 trillion income would be lost to the novel coronavirus globally.

The ILO stated that the ravaging Coronavirus has exposed how vulnerable the global economy is to unanticipated shock.

Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder, said the human dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic reach far beyond the critical health response.

He added that all aspects of the global future will be affected – economic, social and developmental.

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He insisted that the global response to the pandemic must be urgent, coordinated and on a global scale, and should immediately deliver help to those most in need.

It stated that: “All aspects of our future will be affected – economic, social and developmental. Our response must be urgent, coordinated and on a global scale, and should immediately deliver help to those most in need.

“From workplaces, to enterprises, to national and global economies, getting this right is predicated on social dialogue between governments and those on the front line – the employers and workers. So that the 2020s don’t become a re-run of the 1930s.

“ILO estimates are that as many as 25 million people could become unemployed, with a loss of workers’ income of as much as $3.4 trillion. However, it is already becoming clear that these numbers may underestimate the magnitude of the impact,” it stated.

According to ILO, the pandemic has mercilessly exposed the deep fault lines in our labour markets. Enterprises of all sizes have already stopped operations, cut working hours and laid off staff.

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“Many are teetering on the brink of collapse as shops and restaurants close, flights and hotel bookings are cancelled, and businesses shift to remote working. Often the first to lose their jobs are those whose employment was already precarious – sales clerks, waiters, kitchen staff, baggage handlers and cleaners,” it stated.

“In a world where only one in five people are eligible for unemployment benefits, layoffs spell catastrophe for millions of families. Because paid sick leave is not available to many carers and delivery workers – those we all now rely on – they are often under pressure to continue working even if they are ill. In the developing world, piece-rate workers, day labourers and informal traders may be similarly pressured by the need to put food on the table. We will all suffer because of this. It will not only increase the spread of the virus but in the longer-term dramatically amplify cycles of poverty and inequality,” ILO stated.

It added that: “Unprecedented, expansionary fiscal and monetary policies are essential to prevent the current headlong downturn from becoming a prolonged recession. We must make sure that people have enough money in their pockets to make it to the end of the week – and the next. This means ensuring that enterprises — the source of income for millions of workers — can remain afloat during the sharp downturn and so are positioned to restart as soon as conditions allow. In particular, tailored measures will be needed for the most vulnerable workers, including the self-employed, part-time workers and those in temporary employment, who may not qualify for unemployment or health insurance and who are harder to reach”.

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