Nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods due to COVID: ILO

Nearly 1.6 billion employees in the informal economy, almost half of the world’s population, face an imminent risk of losing their livelihood due to the ongoing steep reduction in working hours due to the Covid-19 outbreak International Labour Organization has said.

The UN agency added that more than 430 million firms in hard-hit sectors such as retail and manufacturing face “serious disruption”

“It shows I think in the starkest possible terms that the jobs employment crisis and all of its consequences is deepening by comparison with our estimates of 3 weeks ago,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told a briefing that he expected a “massive” impact on poverty.

The results come up in the third version of the ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the field of work, published Wednesday.

Informal employees are the most vulnerable among the global workforce among 3.3 billion, it stressed, lacking social security, access to decent health care, or the opportunity to operate from home.

The organization said that, as a result of the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion in the informal economy “have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living.”

According to ILO estimates, these employees have seen a 60 percent decrease in wages worldwide during the first month of the crisis due to lockdowns or because they operate in hard-hit industries.

Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, said that as the pandemic and the job crisis grew, there is an even more urgent need to protect the world’s most vulnerable workers.

“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 ILO called for “urgent, targeted, and flexible measures” to help particularly smaller and informal-economy enterprises which include both workers and companies.

“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 labor standards, which already enjoy tripartite consensus, can provide a framework,” it said.

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