By Akanimo Sampson
The commitment of the G20 leaders is an important first step in constructing a truly global response to the unprecedented challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, says Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder.
“The G20’s strong and clear commitment to do whatever it takes to overcome the intertwined health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic is a very welcome first step. Their decision to spare no efforts to protect people, jobs, incomes and enterprises is extremely important,” says Ryder.
Adding, he said, “this is the time for global solidarity, especially with the most vulnerable people in societies, and with the emerging and developing world. We must also offer our full support to the health workers who are in the front lines of the medical response.”
Ryder is also stressing that the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly turned into a global economic crisis that could easily become a global recession, and calls for specific measures to support workers, jobs and incomes.
These measures include extending social protection, supporting employment retention (i.e. short-time work, paid leave, other subsidies), and financial and tax relief, including for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
He says “in the 2008/9 financial crisis, the world came together and the worst was averted. We have the chance to do the same now, and to do it better. But we must act now so that the 2020s are not a rerun of the 1930s.”
Ryder is equally calling for the use of social dialogue – engaging with workers and employers and their representatives – as a vital way for building public trust and support for the type of measures that work to overcome a crisis.
A preliminary ILO assessment of the outbreak’s effect on the global world of work published 18 March, found that it could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million, and push millions of people into underemployment and working poverty.
Ryder joined the G20’s extraordinary virtual summit on the virus pandemic, which was hosted by Saudi Arabia via video conference.
According to him, “the G20 must work with the United Nations to deliver the necessary actions globally and on the scale required. We have the means to do it, we just need the political will to look beyond national boundaries.”