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400 million Indians at risk of sinking into poverty: UN report

A report published by the UN labour organisation, detailing how COVID-19 will affect the world of work, revealed that the crisis is already impacting tens of millions of informal sector workers and will further put around 2 billion people at particular risk.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 8, 2020 1:27:41 pm
Delhi pollution, Delhi air pollution, air pollution Delhi, Delhi air quality, Delhi construction ban, construction ban Delhi, Delhi news, city news, Indian Express Globally 1.25 billion informal workers are at high risk of “drastic and devastating” increase in dismissals along with reduction in wages and working hours. (Express File)

As a fallout of the “worst global crisis since World War II”, approximately 400 million Indians employed in the informal sector are at risk of slipping deeper into poverty, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Globally the coronavirus pandemic will likely impact 195 million full-time jobs or about 6.7 percent of working hours in the second quarter of 2020.

A report published by the United Nations labour body, detailing how COVID-19 will affect the world, revealed that the crisis is already impacting tens of millions of informal sector workers and will further put around 2 billion people at risk. This trend will be mostly seen in developing economies, it said.

“In India, with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis. Current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas,” the report said emphasising the substantial impact of lockdown and other containment measures on the informal economies of developing nations.

Globally 1.25 billion informal workers are at high risk of “drastic and devastating” increase in dismissals along with reduction in wages and working hours. Many such workers are in low-skilled and low-paying jobs in which sudden loss of incomes can have profound consequences.

“Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe” said the ILO Director General Guy Ryder. “We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse,” he added. Ryder designated the pandemic as “the greatest test for international cooperation in more than 75 years” wherein if one country fails then the whole world is bound to get affected.

Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab States — 8.1 per cent, or 5 million full-time workers, in Europe — 7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers and in Asia and the Pacific — 7.2 per cent, or 125 million full-time workers, it said.

Huge losses are expected to hit across all income groups but these economic consequences will particularly impact upper-middle income countries that employ 100 million full time workers. These are projected to exceed the losses occurred due to the 2008 financial crisis, it said.

The agency said sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities. The eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 will depend substantially on future developments and policy measures. There is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection of 25 million, it said.

The report suggests “large-scale and integrated policy measures” to deal with this situation which entails stimulating economy and jobs by supporting enterprises, employment and incomes, protecting workers in workplaces and finding solutions between government, workers and employers.

(with inputs from PTI)

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