THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) has welcomed the re-commitment by the G20 group of nations to a coherent and human-centred approach to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that leads to greater social justice and decent work for all.
The G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration, issued following a full day of talks in Catania, Italy, echoes the Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery, adopted by delegates at the June session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), a release said. The Call to Action outlines measures to create a human-centred recovery from the pandemic to avoid the long-term scarring of economies and societies.
In a speech to G20 Labour and Employment Ministers at the meeting, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder welcomed the ministers’ reaffirmed commitment to shaping a human-centred recovery that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient. He noted their renewed efforts to achieve more, better and equally paid jobs for women, regulation of remote and digital platform work, and adequate social protection and safe and healthy working conditions for all.
He underlined the importance of strong social protection systems and enhanced coordination between social protection and labour-market policies, to protect workers during the crisis and help them back into work.
“The crisis has impacted some sectors and groups much harder. In particular, it has hit women and youth, along with those in the informal economy,” he said. “Those are also the groups facing the most difficult situations today and the biggest risk of being left behind in the months and years ahead.”
Ryder outlined the cataclysmic impact of COVID-19, which has led to loss of the equivalent of 161 million full-time jobs in the G20 nations. This, he said, represents a world-of-work crisis four times as severe as the one triggered by the financial crisis of 2008/09.
The recovery of recent months, he said, has been uneven and fragile, with developing countries likely to find the process more difficult.
“Unless deliberate action is taken, COVID-19 will make the world of work more unequal, more unjust, less resilient, less inclusive and ultimately less sustainable. We can do things differently. The crisis has shown us that long-established policy settings and work arrangements can be modified in ways that were previously unimaginable.”
Governments, employers and workers must address the process of recovery, with the understanding that the future of work is not pre-determined, he said.
Ryder also highlighted the need to improve the quality of women’s employment. This would be vital if the G20 is to achieve the ‘Brisbane Goal’ of reducing the labour force participation gap by 25 per cent by 2025, he said.
At a presentation of a joint ILO-OECD report on Women at Work in the G20, Ryder told the ministers that women are twice as likely as men to be in low-paid jobs, and are more likely to be in informal employment and on temporary contracts. At the same time, women bear the brunt of unpaid work, largely due to care responsibilities.
A transformative agenda for gender equality needs greater investment in the care economy, employment policies that focus on women, universal access to comprehensive and adequate social protection, and equal pay for work of equal value, Ryder stressed. He also urged countries to ratify the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190), noting that the problem had worsened during the pandemic.
Speaking to the G20 Joint Education and Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting on Transitions from School-to-Work, Ryder underlined the need to link education, employment and social policies.
Latest ILO estimates show that, globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults. In the G20 countries, youth employment declined by 11 per cent in 2020, almost four times more than for adults, Ryder said, adding that the impact on young women was even greater.
“The potential legacy of all this is frightening. This generation could be damaged for years to come, turning COVID-19 in to a multi-generational crisis,” he said.
Countries need to ensure that young people are able to develop their skills and find decent work when they complete their education and training, the ILO Director-General said. He cited the G20 Youth Roadmap 2025, which guides G20 members in strengthening their efforts to reduce the number of young women and men who are so-called NEETs (Not in Employment, Education, or Training).
Many of the issues highlighted by Ryder during the two ministerial meetings he attended were reflected in the two G20 Ministerial Declarations adopted in Catania. These point to the importance of effective social dialogue and the need to take into account ILO instruments and declarations on Social Protection Floors, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Future of Work.