NEW YORK, July 9 — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday highlighted the need for decent jobs to fuel the COVID-19 recovery, Xinhua news agency reported.
In a video message, the UN chief told heads of state and government and others attending a virtual meeting that they are essential to global efforts to “build back better” after the pandemic.
“Together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with decent jobs and a brighter, more equal and greener future for all,” he said.
More than 50 heads of state and government, alongside global employers’ and trade union leaders, have been taking part in an online discussion on Wednesday looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work.
The summit is part of a five-day virtual event organised this month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to examine issues that include countering the economic and social impact of the crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and businesses worldwide. It has led to a 14 per cent drop globally in working hours during the second quarter of this year: equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs, according to data from the ILO.
Furthermore, most of the world’s workers — a staggering 93 per cent — continue to live in countries that have implemented some form of workplace closures.
As of Wednesday, the World Health Organisation reported more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and nearly 540,000 deaths.
The UN chief pointed out that while some countries are just entering the worst days of the pandemic, others are struggling to open up their economies amid the threat of a resurgence in cases.
“But let’s be clear: it’s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”
The UN chief underscored the importance of global solidarity as no country can solve the crisis alone.
“This global summit is an opportunity for governments, workers and employers’ representatives to shape winning responses,” said the secretary-general.
“Responses that stimulate the economy and employment. Solutions that support enterprises, decent jobs and incomes. Approaches that safeguard workers and expand social protection. Plans that promote gender equality and reinforce social cohesion. Proposals that protect the most vulnerable and invest in essential workers — such as those in health and care services — who are on the frontlines of the response. And above all, initiatives that are grounded in unity and solidarity.”
Leaders addressed the summit via video messages, outlining how their countries or organisations are responding to the crisis.
The summit was preceded by five regional virtual events held last week looking at the challenges of recovery and building a better future of work after the pandemic.