Global job losses may get worse over poor support
The world is on the cusp of witnessing monumental income crisis, and massive job losses not seen in decades amid poor support for government and employer actions.
This is contained in a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), tagged; “the fourth ITUC Global Covid-19,” which carried out a survey of 130 trade unions from 100 countries, including 16 G20 countries, and 32 OECD countries between May 25 and 28th.
The report noted that the digital divide and concerns over the use of technology on privacy rights have been exposed as the new fault lines of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Indeed, a global jobs crisis is sweeping across the world with trade unions in 87 percent of countries surveyed reporting that companies have announced they are laying off workers as a result of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Americas and Europe are hardest hit with 100 percent of countries in the Americas and 90 percent of countries in Europe saying companies have begun to lay off workers. Eighty percent of countries in Africa and 76 percent of countries in the Asia-Pacific have companies where workers are losing their jobs.
Trade unions from 49 percent of countries said their government does or intends to use a smart phone app to track and trace people who have been exposed to Covid-19.
The wealthier G20 countries (88%), and OECD countries (75%) have the highest uptake of track and tracing apps, while only 27 percent of countries in Africa, and 33 percent of countries in the Americas have governments who intend to use a smart phone app to track and trace people who have been exposed to Covid-19.
In those countries which intend to use a smartphone contact tracing app, trade unions in 69 percent of countries globally have concerns about the privacy provisions of the app and the use of personal data. These are felt most strongly in the Americas (80% of countries) and Europe (78% of countries).
Reacting to the report, the General-Secretary of ITUC, Sharan Burrow, said: “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we faced a convergence of crises. Massive inequality was driving an age of anger with civil unrest and distrust in democracy that was already recognised as a major risk to economies and societies. And we faced the choices associated with the best and worst impacts of technology devoid of a rights base.”
The global trade union movement called on governments to put in place recovery and resilience plans. These will include the following:
job protection and job creation; income protection and minimum living wages; OHS – including global standards and provisions for safe workplaces; universal Social Protection to build resilience;
responsible business conduct through supply chains; and government accountability with social dialogue and the provision of privacy rights.
“These are the foundations for the new social contract between government and societies where people and the planet are on equal footing with the economy,” Burrow added.
While governments are responding well to the needs of workers in 63 percent of countries, tracking data shows that 10 countries now have a more negative view of their government’s responses to the pandemic.
Over half of countries (58%) believe that employers are responding badly to the needs of workers affected by the virus, and tracking data shows an increase in countries where employers are responding badly.
“The importance of recovery and resilience plans that are built on social dialogue with a new social contract at their centre will be a test of government and employer action in the coming months,” said Burrow.