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Monday, October 31, 2016

ILO seeks coordinated action to boost global economy

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja   |   25 October 2016   |

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has blamed lack of coordinated action for the slow growth of the global economy.

The Director General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, lamented that the global economy is yet to recover eight years after the global financial crisis fueling anxiety that there is a high risk that it will remain stuck in a slow growth trap.

ILO Director-General highlighted that there are over 70 million women and men not in work today who would have had a job if pre-crisis growth had resumed. With the latest downward revisions in growth prospects the jobs gap could rise to over 80 million by 2020.

His words: “Global real wage growth dropped sharply during the crisis, recovered in 2010 but has since decelerated. If China, where wage growth was faster than elsewhere is not included, wage growth fell to below the one per cent per annum recorded in the crisis years. Increasing decent work opportunities and improving wages are key to breaking out of the slow growth trap and rekindling a virtuous circle of increased investment, rising productivity and sustainable enterprise and wage and consumption growth.”

According to surveys in 28 countries, a quarter of young people aged between 15 and 29 years old are neither employed, nor in education or training (NEET), a status, which carries risks of underemployment, skills deterioration and discouragement. In addition, between 1995 and 2015, the global female labour force participation rate decreased from 52.4 to 49.6 per cent.

“It is estimated that 156 million employed youth, or 38 per cent of working youth in emerging and developing countries are living in extreme or moderate poverty. The potential of the generation that must work to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s sustainable development goal is being wasted,” Ryder added.

The ILO Chief stressed that investing in gender equality at work and in enabling women and men to balance work and family responsibilities is a top priority in structural reform of the labour market and increasing the productive potential of the world’s workforce.

The ILO Director General also noted that the ILO and the World Bank’s shared objective is to increase the number of countries that can provide universal social protection, supporting countries to design and implement universal and sustainable social protection systems.

“Universal social protection refers to the integrated set of policies designed to ensure income security and support to all people across the life cycle – paying particular attention to the poor and the vulnerable,” Ryder said.

In this context, he drew attention to the ILO/IFC Better Work programme operating in eight developing nations around the world and targeted on garment supply chains. The programme is reducing the prevalence of abusive workplace practices, increasing productivity and pay and reducing excessive working hours, and creating positive effects outside the factory for workers and their families.

The ILO Director-General also highlighted that considerable shifts in employment driven by openness to international trade and investment ‘call for strengthened labour market institutions’ to ease worker mobility, increase training, promote sustainable wage setting, ensure adequate social protection, improve working conditions and enhance respect for international labour standards.

“The widely ratified ILO conventions on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are key benchmarks for international investment and trade governance mechanisms. Their near-universal acceptance, which demonstrates the value of ILO membership, has allowed them to become the globally accepted baseline for fair treatment in the workplace and a starting point for addressing labour conditions and sustainable development,” he said.

Meanwhile, workers under the aegis of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have called on companies and governments to account for attacks on workers’ rights and living standards and an end to huge and growing economic inequality, as they mark the World Day for Decent Work.

Commenting on the significance of the decent work agenda, the General Secretary of ITUC, Sharan Burrow, said: “Pressure is building globally for governments to put an end to corporate greed. Major multinationals responsible for a hidden workforce of 94 per cent of workers in their supply chains, and wherever we look we find modern slavery, dangerous and exploitative working practices and poverty wages embedded in the factories and farms which supply consumers worldwide.
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