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Four out of five workers worldwide suspended totally or partially due to pandemic

12job lossThe International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that four out of five of all workers have been affected by the total or partial suspension of their jobs, in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has had as a knock-on effect imposed social confinement.

The latest ILO report on the repercussions of the epidemic on employment, released this Tuesday, also predicts that 6.7 percent of working hours will disappear in the second quarter of 2020, worldwide. These hours are equivalent to 195 million full-time workers (out of 3.3 billion worldwide). This reduction in working hours will be highest in the Arab States (8.1 percent, five million workers), in Europe (7.8 percent, 12 million workers) and in Asia and the Pacific (7.2 percent , 125 million workers).

The ILO also identifies the sectors of activity most exposed to risk: accommodation and catering, manufacturing, trade, and commercial and administrative activities. This ILO update (which released a first report on March 18) estimates that 38 percent of the global workforce (1.25 billion workers) is employed in the most at-risk sectors, with “drastic and devastating” consequences already being seen, with redundancies and reduced wages and hours worked.

The proportion of workers in those sectors varies between 43.2 percent in the Americas and 26.4 percent in Asia and the Pacific, with Europe registering a rate of 42.1 percent. Other regions are concerned with the lack of protection of informal work, which involves two billion people, mostly in developing countries and emerging economies, and in particular in Africa.

Although the increase in world unemployment in 2020 depends, to a considerable extent, on the “political measures that may be adopted”, the ILO recognizes, from now on, the “high risk” that the estimate pointed out for this year to be “significantly higher “than the initial forecast, which pointed to 25 million unemployed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has a tough effect on working time and income, worldwide,” sums up the ILO, recognizing that its impact outweighs the effects of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

All income levels will suffer “huge losses”, but the ILO estimates that the biggest impact will be on medium-high incomes. Workers who continue to work in public services, especially health professionals, are exposed to “significant health and economic risks” attests to the ILO, further recognizing that, in the health sector, the impact “disproportionately affects women”

In view of the current situation, “it is necessary to adopt integrated and large-scale policy measures, centred on four pillars: supporting business, employment and income; stimulating the economy and employment; protecting workers in the workplace; and using the social dialogue between governments, workers and employers to find solutions “, recommends the ILO.

“Workers and companies face catastrophe, both in developed and developing economies,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, quoted in the statement. “We must act with speed, decision and coordination. The right and urgent measures can make the difference between normality and collapse,” he said, considering that “this is the biggest test of international cooperation in more than 75 years”. Guy Ryder believes that “the right measures” can limit the impact of the crisis “and the wounds it will leave”, and he argues that the new work systems that arise should be “safer, more just and more sustainable”.