- UN calls on governments to prioritize protecting jobs and workers in post-COVID recovery path
- Points out new business models and gig economy have reduced worker benefits and protection
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
As nations across the world are looking for avenues that would help their economies recover from the massive hit brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations (UN) stressed that governments should put much emphasis on protecting jobs and workers at this point of time.
“Economic recovery is about protecting jobs and workers; ensuring decent work; and protecting productive assets, productive units and productive networks during the crisis,” said the UN in its latest framework drawn up to the immediate socio-economic response to Covid-19.
It stressed that governments and authorities should look at ensuring the continued or improved functioning of small producers, informal workers and SMEs across sectors and be certain there is production and access to food and other essential goods and services.
The agency called for policy decisions across multiple sectors, and mitigation of adverse policy effects, including essential services, as such are needed to avoid disruption and permanent job losses.
“Supporting income and employment for workers needs to be a core element of stimulus packages along with promoting decent work,” the UN said.
It added that these policy action, based on social dialogue, would be critical in preventing disruptions in massive employment sectors that would present immediate existential threats to essential services.
The agency warned that the failure to address such concerns could result in riots, violence and erosion of trust in institutions and governments.
Identified as most vulnerable are workers in the informal economy who constitute 60 percent of the global workforce as they have no or limited access to social protection, nor do they have the economic security to take sick leave, get treated if required, or cope with lockdown.
Pointing out that new business models, such as online platforms and gig economy with non-standard employment relationships, have tend to reduce benefits and protection for workers, the UN said such have created the risk of growing informality, which underscores the need to redefine social protection systems to guarantee universal coverage of the basic elements associated to decent work.
The UN stressed that the COVID-19 crisis is plunging the world economy into a recession with historical levels of unemployment and deprivation.
It warned that the crisis could lead to a decline in 195 million full-time equivalent workers in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
The pandemic is also a job and livelihood crisis that threatens the progress of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the agency noted.
Women worst hit in pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all segments of the economy, however, the worse hit are the women, the United Nations (UN) identified.
Having analysed the gender dimensions in the current crisis period, the UN said that due to pre-existing gender-based inequalities, women are the most vulnerable.
“Women will likely experience more difficulty finding new jobs or entrepreneurship opportunities for their economic recovery,” the UN said in its new global framework conceptualised to tackle the global COVID-19 crisis.
It added that women are overrepresented in some services most impacted by the crisis, mostly lacking social protection.
“They bear a disproportionate burden in the care economy,” it stressed.
Women also represent approximately 70 percent of frontline workers dealing with the pandemic in the health and social sector, many of whom are migrant workers.