The International Labour Organisation (ILO)is calling on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to focus their COVID-19 response on workers and enterprises.
ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, is advocating for an immediate human-centred response through global solidarity to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is accordingly urging the IMF and WB to focus their response on “providing immediate relief to workers and enterprises to protect businesses and livelihoods, particularly in hard-hit sectors and in developing countries”.
In written statements to the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee Spring Meetings of IMF and the World Bank, Ryder describes the human dimension of the pandemic as devastating, and its combined health, social and economic effects as the worst crisis since the Second World War.
He says priority attention should be given to the impact on smaller enterprises, unprotected workers, and those in the informal economy.
According to the latest edition of the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work, 81 per cent of the global workforce (2.7 billion workers) live in countries with mandatory or recommended closures.
It also shows that working hours will decline by 6.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to the loss of 195 million full-time jobs.
Ryder urged the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee (DC) to put their weight behind four inter-related policy responses.
ILO wants the Bretton Wood institutions to stimulate the economy and demand for labour by using available fiscal and monetary tools and debt relief.
Public investment in health systems would be doubly effective as a crucial contribution to beating the pandemic and creating decent jobs.
Secondly, providing immediate assistance to sustain enterprises, preserve jobs and support incomes. In this context, Ryder highlighted the particular need to invest in social protection measures, which can help mitigate the worst shocks of the crisis while acting as an economic stabiliser.
Thirdly, ensure adequate protection for all those working during the crisis. That requires guarantees for safety and health in the workplace, properly designed work arrangements such as teleworking, and access to sick pay.
Fourthly, make full use of social dialogue between governments, and workers and employers’ organisations, which has a proven record of generating effective, practical, and equitable solutions to the type of challenges now confronting the world of work.
“The crisis has uncovered the huge decent work deficits that still prevail in 2020 and shown how vulnerable millions of working people are when a crisis hits”, says Ryder, citing gaps in social protection coverage, the precarious situations of many small businesses, and weaknesses in global supply chains.
He called on the IMF and the WB to resist pressure for austerity and fiscal consolidation that might come at the first signs of economic improvement and obstruct full and sustainable recovery.
The crisis has shown that habits and behaviours can change, said Ryder, pointing to the potential 4 per cent fall in global carbon emissions in 2020 because of the lockdown.
“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, and more effective in cushioning the consequences of future crises on people around the globe”, he concluded.