Human-centred recovery from COVID-19 crisis
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 7, 8 October 2021, page no.26
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) – the United Nations agency for the world of work – has issued a global call to action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
COVID’s economic impact
According to the resolution, which was passed at the ILO’s 2021 conference, the economic impact of COVID-19 includes increased unemployment, underemployment and inactivity, losses in labour and business income, supply chain disruptions, worsening of pre-existing decent work deficits, increased poverty, widened inequalities and exposed digital gaps within and among countries.
Women have experienced disproportionate job and income losses, and the crisis has profoundly disrupted the education, training and employment of young people.
The QTU and the Queensland Council of Unions have already raised many of the matters addressed in the ILO resolution with the Queensland Government, while our federally affiliated bodies, the Australian Education Union and ACTU, have raised others with the Commonwealth Government.
The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work 2019 provides the foundation for a recovery from the crisis that is fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient and supports a just transition.
Part 9 of the resolution states: “We, governments and employers’ and workers’ organisations, commit to working individually and collectively and with the support of the ILO for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Part 11 commits to inclusive economic growth and employment, protection of all workers, universal social protection, and social dialogue.
Inclusive economic growth and employment
Inclusive economic growth includes national, job-rich employment policies which are supportive of fiscal and industrial policies that also foster equity and stability. The resolution recognises hardest hit industries like hospitality, tourism, transport, arts, recreation and some parts of retail, and those with strong potential to expand decent work opportunities, such as the care economy, education and infrastructure development. The resolution calls for incentives to employers to retain workers, and quality education, training and decent work for young people to maximise their potential as a source of dynamism, talent, creativity and innovation. Economic growth should be underpinned by a commitment to decent work, environmental sustainability, and respect for human rights. Policies that support inclusive economic growth should leverage the opportunities of just digital and environmental transitions to advance decent work.
Protection of all workers
Safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work, and all workers should be provided with adequate protections, including respect for rights at work, minimum wages, maximum limits on working time, and safe workplaces. Protection of workers also means that those at higher risk of exposure to COVID–19 should have access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, training, testing and psychosocial support, and are protected at work, including against excessive workloads. Health and safety measures should be strengthened, and measures put in place to prevent new outbreaks or other occupational risks.
Part 11(B)(h) of the resolution recognises that a human-centred recovery is an opportunity to “execute across the public and private sectors a transformative agenda for equality, diversity and inclusion aimed at eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work and discrimination on all grounds.”
Universal social protection
The universal social protection commitments include access to basic income security and essential healthcare and recognising the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as enhancing access to unemployment protection to ensure support for workers who have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic. Social protection commitments also include workers’ access to adequate paid sick leave, sickness benefits and health and care services, family leave and other family-friendly policies for all workers, ensuring coverage in cases of quarantine and self-isolation and developing faster delivery mechanisms for benefits.
The ILO refers to social dialogue as enabling rights of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, affirming the resolution as a global call to action to governments and employer and employee organisations to implement national recovery plans which address the need for retention and creation of decent jobs.
The original ILO resolution can be found at https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/coronavirus/lang--en/index.htm