COVID-19 and Supporting the World of Work

What is needed to support business continuity and protect workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Beyond a health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is now a human crisis with huge socio-economic impacts, including on the labour market. Millions of companies worldwide are in danger of being forced out of business with grave impacts on employment. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs worldwide could be lost as a result of the crisis, forcing millions into unemployment, underemployment and working poverty.

To minimize the social and economic consequences, enterprises must respond quickly with innovative solutions to support the continuation of their business activities, protect their workers and prepare for the recovery. Tripartite agreements between governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations on support packages for enterprises and social dialogue at the enterprise level between managers and workers are key elements to jointly address the impacts of this crisis. This session features a discussion on necessary measures and policies to respond to the challenges that COVID-19 brings in the world of work.

Speakers Include:
-Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization
-Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary-General, International Organisation of Employers
-Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

What did we learn?

  • The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. This comes on top of the estimated 30 to 40 million lost jobs during the three first months of this year. We are going into a catastrophic unemployment situation globally.
  • Large reductions in jobs are foreseen in the Arab States, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific the coming three months. Sectors most at risk are accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.
  • Social and economic response measures should be an integral part of the pandemic response measures. Protection of workers, families, communities and enterprises with guarantees for paid sick leave, wage and income protection, loan/mortgage protection and access to universal health are essential first steps to stabilising the fallout from the pandemic.
  • The innovative actions and policy measures should be focusing on business continuity of viable enterprises, designed with the notion of equity and sustainability.
    • Stimulus packages should be used with maximum effect. Liquidity needs to reach the real economy. Policy considerations will benefit from consultations with business and organized labour. Special attention should go to small and medium enterprises.
    • The design of the stimulus packages should be based on basic fairness as they should benefit workers, enterprises and societies. Measures to supporting businesses for business continuity should mean retention of workers with income support.
    • Social and economic response measures should be integrated in health efforts to beat the pandemic.
  • Call for a massive global social protection fund to ensure income and health for all workers. Social protection is key to overcome this crisis. The international community should step up to strengthen and build long-term social protection systems.
  • The SDGs should remain our roadmap as we are not on track and challenges on decent work, climate, inequality and poverty remain. These challenges will still need political will and resources to overcome them.
  • A truly global response based on global solidarity is needed to overcome this global crisis. We need to internationalize national responses. National leaders should be global leaders.

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