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By
Fibre2Fashion
Published
Oct 18, 2022
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ILO’s DG demands social protection, minimum wages to tackle crisis

By
Fibre2Fashion
Published
Oct 18, 2022

The International Labour Organization’s director-general Gilbert F Houngbo has called for increasing minimum wages and guaranteeing social protection benefits to protect the most vulnerable in the current social and economic crisis. Houngbo addressed delegates at the 2022 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.



“At this challenging time, it is essential that we seize the initiative… [and] shape the future so that it delivers a better, more equitable and sustainable world that will also contribute to lasting peace,” the director-general told delegates.

In his written statement to the joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee, Houngbo noted that increasing productive employment was essential to reduce inequality. Greater formalisation of employment was also necessary to improve business productivity and sustainability, promote decent work, and give governments more financial resources to address poverty and inequality.
Long-term policies to tackle persistent large gender gaps, including in pay, pensions, and quality of work, were also needed.

“Constrained by rising debt burdens and shrinking fiscal space, many countries now face [a] daunting policy landscape,” he told the committee. “A new collective effort is needed to better manage and ultimately exit these crises and prevent future crises.” This included increasing social investment in skills development and care, addressing labour market inequalities, and raising the levels of social protection benefits and wages to maintain living standards in the face of inflation — for which there was scope without creating a wage-price spiral, he said.

In a second written statement to the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the director-general described a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by higher prices and a decoupling of wage growth from productivity growth, leading to falling real wages. Without immediate action and increased resources this could increase inequality and place greater strain on businesses, he said, adding that, with many countries having limited fiscal space to provide support to low-income households, this could fuel social unrest, added the release.

Houngbo highlighted the need for increased support for vulnerable economies, who may face high and increasing debt. Greater respect for labour rights and the promotion of sustainable enterprises and better working conditions in supply chains could catalyse economic development, poverty reduction, and greater income equality between countries, he said.

He called for increased collective efforts to address the current interrelated and mutually reinforcing crises, pointing out that such action would also advance social justice and so contribute to lasting peace.

Other priority policies include investment in social protection and productive employment through the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, according to a press release by ILO. The Global Accelerator aims to galvanise the creation of 400 million jobs, including in the green, digital, and care economies, and the extension of adequate social protection to the four billion people currently without coverage. This would support a shift to a pro-active approach to managing economic, social, and environmental crises, and the just transition required to tackle climate change.

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