Coronavirus: Hundreds of millions of workers in India may sink deeper into poverty, says UN's labour body

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 08, 2020, 11:15 AM(IST)

Unemployment in India Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Coronavirus pandemic has already wreaked "catastrophic consequences" on India and the world alike, and is expected to wipe out 195 million full-time jobs or 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of this year in the country.

As many as 400 million people working in the informal economy in India may fall deeper into poverty due to the coronavirus crisis, the UN's labour body has warned.

Coronavirus pandemic has already wreaked "catastrophic consequences" on India and the world alike, and is expected to wipe out 195 million full-time jobs or 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of this year in the country, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its report titled 'ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work' said, describing COVID-19 as "the worst global crisis since World War II".

"In India, Nigeria and Brazil, the number of workers in the informal economy affected by the lockdown and other containment measures is substantial," ILO said.

"In India, with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers in the informal economy 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," it said.

"Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies. We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said on Tuesday.

The report said the disruption to the world's economies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of this year -- the equivalent of 195 million jobs worldwide.

Huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle income countries (7.0 per cent, 100 million full-time workers), far exceeding the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis, the report warned.

Thee report, however, added 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.

According to the report, 1.25 billion workers are employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of "drastic and devastating" increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours. Many are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income is devastating.

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