ILO warns of new threats to global economic and jobs recovery from debt crisis and financial instability

Growing instability in financial markets and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe may put global economic and jobs recovery efforts at risk, according to a report by International Labour Office Director-General Juan Somavia to be discussed at the ILO’s annual conference.

“Major international actors have put the goal of quality jobs at the heart of recovery plans,” Mr. Somavia said in a report to be delivered to the International Labour Conference opening on 2 June. “There is growing concern that progress towards this goal could be at risk as a result of the dangerous new twist to the financial crisis.”

In the report “Recovery and Growth with Decent Work,” Mr. Somavia warns that despite signs of a “weak economic recovery … the risk of a new phase of the financial crisis around sovereign debt has appeared, jeopardizing prospects of growth for some countries, potentially affecting the global economy and again raising doubts about the stability of the international financial and monetary system.”

The report also notes that although output began to recover, unemployment continued to rise in many countries in 2010. The global unemployment rate is likely to remain high in 2010, at 6.5 per cent, or more than 210 million people worldwide. It warns that “for many working women and men, and for many enterprises in the real economy, recovery has not yet started”, adding that high unemployment raised the “spectre of a jobless recovery … in many countries.”

The report added that the share of workers in vulnerable employment worldwide was estimated to range between 49.5 and 52.8 per cent in 2009, which represents a potential increase of more than 100 million vulnerable workers since 2008.

“We know there is no sustainable recovery without jobs recovery,” Mr. Somavia said. “The test we face is to secure and accelerate a jobs-rich recovery and get onto a path of strong, sustainable and balanced growth that leads to the social stability provided by decent work for all. This is the foundation of a sustainable process of reducing deficits and debt, and is consistent with the Global Jobs Pact adopted by the International Labour Conference in 2009.”

The annual Conference is to host a number of discussions involving representatives of governments, workers and employers from the ILO’s 183 member States on ways of paving the way for a job-rich recovery and fostering a more sustainable and balanced growth. These include two high-level panels on 14 June that will discuss the role of productive employment and social protection in realizing internationally agreed development goals and the Millennium Development Goals.

The panels will also review progress in realizing the ILO Global Jobs Pact adopted last year in response to the global economic crisis and designed to guide national and international policies aimed at stimulating economic recovery, generating jobs and providing protection to working people and their families.

The Conference will also have a forward-looking discussion of employment trends and challenges over the next decade. The macroeconomic, employment, labour market, trade and investment policies required to promote full, decent and productive employment will be considered. At the same time, the discussion will cover the interrelationship between rights at work, social protection and social dialogue in reaching employment objectives in an integrated decent work approach set out in the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization adopted in 2008.

Special guest, H.E. Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation, will address the opening session of the Conference.

The Conference will consider the elaboration of an international labour standard on HIV/AIDS in the world of work. In the format of an ILO Recommendation, this labour standard would be the first international human rights instrument entirely dedicated to HIV/AIDS. It has provisions on prevention programmes and anti-discrimination measures at national and workplace levels aimed at strengthening the contribution of the world of work to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

The Conference will start discussions on a new international labour standard on domestic workers with a view to the possible adoption of a Convention supplemented by a Recommendation in 2011. This discussion seeks to address the situation of a large and important, though often “invisible” and vulnerable, category of workers.

The Committee on the Application of Standards will hold a special sitting on 5 June to discuss the effect given by the Government of Myanmar to the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry set up to examine the observance of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29). The Committee is also expected to select about 25 countries for a discussion on their application of specific Conventions.

During the plenary of the Conference, delegates will also address the latest ILO report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.

On 11June, the Conference will discuss a Global Report on Child Labour coinciding with the observance of the World Day Against Child Labour. This Day will also be marked with an event at the Place des Nations in Geneva. Hundreds of local school children will join civic leaders and send out a call for action, to “go for the goal-end child labour”, the theme of this year’s World Day.

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