The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours or 195 million full-time workers globally during the second quarter of the year, which started this month.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said large reductions are foreseen in the Arab states, (8.1 per cent, equivalent to five million fulltime workers), Europe, (7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers), Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent or 125 million full-time workers).
According to ILO, huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle income countries (seven per cent or 100 million full-time workers), adding that this far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis.
The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, business and administrative activities.
The global work body noted that the eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 would depend substantially on future developments and policy measures. It added that there is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection of 25 million. The ILO said more than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures. “Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe in both developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.
“We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse.”
The ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work, which describes COVID-19 as “the worst global crisis since World War II”, updates an ILO research note published recently.
The updated version includes sectoral and regional information on the effects of the pandemic.
According to the new study, 1.25 billion workers are employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of “drastic and devastating” increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours. Many are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income is devastating.
Looked at regionally, the proportion of workers in these “at risk” sectors varies from 41 per cent in the Americas to 26 per cent in Asia and the Pacific. Other regions, particularly Africa, have higher levels of informality, which combined with a lack of social protection, high population density and weak capacity, pose severe health and economic challenges for governments, the report cautions.
Worldwide, two billion people work in the informal sector (mostly in emerging and developing economies) and are particularly at risk.
Large-scale, integrated, policy measures are needed, focusing on four pillars: supporting enterprises, employment and incomes; stimulating the economy and jobs; protecting workers in the workplace; and, using social dialogue between government, workers and employers to find solutions, the study says.
“This is the greatest test for international cooperation in more than 75 years,” said Ryder. “If one country fails, then we all fail. We must find solutions that help all segments of our global society, particularly those that are most vulnerable or least able to help themselves.”