Covid-19 pandemic dealing devastating blow to labour sector globally, ILO saysNepali migrant workers face an uncertain future as lockdowns in Nepal as well as their host countries are extended.
The global health pandemic of Covid-19 is expected to wipe out 6.7 percent of work hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
While the Covid-19 outbreak has brought the world to a halt and rampaged the global economy, the loss of work hours is yet another blow to the labour sector. The ILO had already said that an estimated 25 million jobs could be lost around the world due to the Covid-19 crisis.
According to the UN agency’s estimates, substantial reductions are predicted in the Arab States (8.1 percent which is equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), followed by Europe (7.8 percent or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 percent, 125 million full-time workers).
Although huge losses are expected across different income groups, impacts are foreseen to be even more robust, especially in upper-middle-income countries (7.0 percent, 100 million full-time workers).
The impact of the Covid-19 exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis as more than four out of five people (81 percent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures, said the ILO.
“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, in a statement. “We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse.”
Nepal’s labour sector is also reeling under the brunt of the Covid-19 after industries, schools, hotels, and restaurants, and almost all the economic activities are suspended following the government-imposed lockdown. Jobs across various sectors, mainly in tourism and hospitality, have already been affected after tourist arrivals plummeted during what would normally have been a peak season. Employers, primarily in the hospitality sector, have started laying off and also asked the workers to stay on ‘unpaid leave’.
Nepali migrant workers face an uncertain future as lockdowns in Nepal as well as their host countries are extended.
According to the ILO, the sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.
The ILO Monitor 2nd edition: Covid-19 and the world of work, which tracks the impact of Covid-19 on the global labour sector, has described the health pandemic as “the worst global crisis since World War II.”
According to the latest finding of the ILO Monitor, 1.25 billion workers are currently employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of “drastic and devastating”, increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours. The majority of these workers are employed in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income is devastating.
As per ILO estimates, two billion people, worldwide, work in the informal sector, mostly in emerging and developing economies, and are particularly at risk.
The study says that 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.
“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.”
“The choices we make today will directly affect the way this crisis unfolds and so the lives of billions of people,” Ryder added. “With the right measures we can limit its impact and the scars it leaves. We must aim to build back better so that our new systems are safer, fairer and more sustainable than those that allowed this crisis to happen.”