1.6 billion workers in informal sector likely to lose jobs: UN labour body

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on April 30, 2020 Published on April 30, 2020

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has said on Wednesday that as many as 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, nearly half of the global workforce, are prone to losing their livelihoods due to the continued sharp decline in working hours because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The findings appear in the ILO Monitor third edition: Covid-19 and the world of work, as per the media reports.

More than 430 million enterprises in hard-hit sectors such as retail and manufacturing risk "serious disruption", the UN agency added.

There are around 3.3 billion workers globally. Out of whom, two billion have jobs in the informal economy, the most vulnerable workers in the labour market.

The agency maintained that 1.6 billion in the informal economy "have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living" as a result of the economic fallout due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to ILO estimates, the global workforce working in the informal sector has witnessed a 60 per cent dip in income in the first month of the crisis followed by a prolonged lockdown.

The economic crisis is more pronounced in Africa and the Americas as it sees more than 80 per cent decline in the income, Europe and Central Asia 70 per cent decline, and 21.6 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, the ILO said.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said as the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the world''s most vulnerable workers becomes even more urgent.

"For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing. They have no savings or access to credit," he said.

"These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don't help them now, they will simply perish."

The UN agency speculated that there would be a 10 per cent decline in the working hours during the second quarter of the year compared to the pre-crisis levels. This is equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs. Previous projections had put the figure at 6.7 per cent, or 195 million full-time workers.

The situation has deteriorated for all major regions, again compared to pre-crisis levels. Q2 estimates suggest a 12.4 per cent loss of working hours in the Americas and 11.8 per cent for Europe and Central Asia. All other regions are above 9.5 per cent.

The ILO called for "urgent, targeted and flexible measures" to support both workers and business, particularly smaller enterprises and those in the informal economy.

"Measures for economic reactivation should follow a job-rich approach, backed by stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems. International coordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures will also be critical to making recovery effective and sustainable. International labour standards, which already enjoy tripartite consensus, can provide a framework," it said.

The ILO also stressed that international coordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures will be critical to making recovery effective and sustainable.

Published on April 30, 2020

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