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COVID-19: ILO seeks investment in human-centred recovery

Economic and social recovery from the pandemic will require policies that promote decent work, address poverty and inequalities and encourage a green recovery, ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder, has said in statements to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings. According to the statement directed at members of the Development Committee and the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), who convened during the Spring Meetings, Ryder said COVID-19 crisis recovery policies must be human-centred and address pre-existing world of work challenges as well as the impact of the pandemic.

Citing the sharp increase in poverty and inequalities seen since the pandemic began, he also warned delegates that without comprehensive and concerted policy efforts, “there is a very real risk that the COVID-19 crisis will leave a legacy of widening inequality and social injustice.” Coherent, multilateral action is essential to ensure that economic and social recovery is as human-centred as the impact of the pandemic itself, he said, pointing out that the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted unanimously by ILO Member States in 2019, offered an internationally- agreed roadmap to more inclusive and resilient societies.

“There is a very real risk that the COVID-19 crisis will leave a legacy of widening inequality and social injustice. “Accelerating implementation of this roadmap should be made a top priority of public policy and international cooperation,” he said. In his written statement to the Development Committee, Ryder said the response to COVID-19 should prioritise the creation of decent work. He cited four components needed for a human-centred recovery that would also build resilience against future shocks. These include strengthening occupational safety and health systems, where the vast human impact of poor safety and health practices is estimated at an economic cost of four per cent of global GDP per year. In addition, poor and vulnerable people should be supported, including with better social protection.

“We have an opportunity today to join forces around a common paradigm that recognizes both the value and urgency of investing in comprehensive and adequate social protection systems,” he said. Support for business growth and job creation must be sustainable and focus on the quality of employment, with policies and measures that reach all workers and businesses, including the informal economy. The institutions of work should be strengthened, including freedom of association and more effective collective bargaining and other social dialogue – including in relation to wages.

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