From the Viewsroom

Global fund for Covid-hit workers?

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on October 04, 2020 Published on October 04, 2020

UN must set up one to support informal sector workers

Arguably, workers are the first indirect casualty of Covid-19. The pandemic may impact nearly a billion jobs by the time the world sees a proper vaccine. Estimates from the UN’s labour watchdog, the ILO, show that more than 495 million full-time workers have lost their jobs so far due to changes wrought by the pandemic, and the number is rising. The sixth edition of the ‘ILO monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work’, released on September 23, shows high working-hour losses have impacted workers’ income deeply. During the first three quarters of 2020 there was a minimum 10.7 per cent fall in labour incomes across the globe, in comparison with the same period in 2019. This loss amounts to S$3.5 trillion, or 5.5 per cent of global GDP. ILO estimates that labour income losses are the highest in middle-income countries, reaching 15.1 per cent in lower-middle-income countries and 11.4 per cent in upper-middle-income countries.

The estimates are mostly about full-time workers. In the informal sector, which houses most of the world’s workers, the losses have been worse, with more than 60 per cent of the workers not enjoying social security. ILO says job losses in Africa, where informal workers massively dominate the labour spectrum, are much more than its earlier estimates. How can we ensure these workers’ families are not pushed into poverty and hopelessness?

This is a global crisis, and the response to it should be global. It is in this context that calls for creating a global fund for post-Covid labour gains importance. Ideally, the ILO, under the command of the UN, can take charge of the project and pool in funds from businesses, philanthropists and similar donors to create a contingency fund. The UN can work with trade unions, country-level labour departments, NGOs, worker cooperatives and similar entities to reach out to those in the informal sector. Such concerted efforts can be easily executed in today’s digital scenario.

Deputy Editor

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Published on October 04, 2020
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