Coronavirus – South Africa: International Labour Organization (ILO) welcomes G20 commitment to inclusive, employment-focused recovery from COVID-19 crisis

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ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has welcomed the commitment of the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers to a job-centric focus for COVID-19  recovery plans, promoting decent work for all, especially women and youth. The meeting took place against the backdrop of unprecedented turmoil in global labour markets, with a decline in working hours equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs worldwide in the second quarter of 2020. Over 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, and youth, women and persons with disabilities have been among the worst hit. The Ministers reaffirmed their determination to use social dialogue and to work with other ministers to ensure policy coherence in constructing effective, inclusive and sustainable response measures, in a Declaration issued at the end of their one-day, virtual meeting. “It is critical and urgent for the G20 to take large-scale coordinated measures to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets and societies, and the Labour and Employment Ministers have pledged to do exactly that,” said Ryder. “We need solidarity, commitment and vision on a global scale. Furthermore the G20 has a unique opportunity to adopt policies to counter the inequalities exposed by COVID-19, and create the foundations for the better, fairer systems that people are demanding.”

“The G20 has a unique opportunity to adopt policies to counter the inequalities exposed by COVID-19, and create the foundations for the better, fairer systems that people are demanding.” Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

Ryder addressed the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia on September 10, to update the Ministers on global labour market developments, the impact of COVID-19, as well as progress made towards the achievement of the G20 Brisbane goal, to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation by 25 per cent by 2025. The Ministerial Declaration focused in particular on issues facing youth and women, on whom the pandemic is having a disproportionate impact. It commits the G20 to strengthening support for young people – particularly young women – in making labour market transitions and finding quality employment, and to redouble their efforts to achieve the Antalya Youth Goal, through which G20 members commit to reducing the share of young people who are most at risk of being permanently left behind in the labour market by 15 per cent by 2025. To this effect, they adopted the G20 Youth Roadmap 2025. Ministers also acknowledged that more needs to be done to achieve the G20 Brisbane goal, and they committed to ensuring that recent falls in women’s labour force participation do not become structural, and to advancing gender equality and pay equity. “We know this crisis has had an unequal impact on women. The hard-won but modest gains made towards gender equality in recent years are likely to be wiped out,” said Ryder. “We need targeted policies and funding to close gender gaps, support women entrepreneurs, improve working conditions, and boost the care economy.” The Declaration also highlights the “vital role” of social protection, saying that “the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for strong social protection systems to support all workers and their families”. It commits the G20 to “adapting and improving our social protection systems to provide access to adequate social protection for all”, including women, youth, the self-employed, platform and own-account workers, and those in informal employment. “Social protection is an incredibly powerful tool. It not only protects household incomes but, by supporting consumption, it also protects jobs, reduces inequalities and builds resilience,” said Ryder. “I welcome the G20 support for expanding and strengthening social protection so that it covers all. We need to look at ways to convert the temporary social protection extensions introduced in the last few months, into long-term, sustainable and inclusive systems.” The G20 Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to promoting the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work , in particular in global supply chains and the digital economy, and the ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work  (2019).

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Labour Organisation (ILO).

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