BRICS 8th Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting

ILO Director-General’s remarks to the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting

Statement | 14 July 2022
Thank you Chair, Minister Zhou.
Minsters, representatives of Workers and Employers,
Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the 8th BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting.

You are gathering us today as multiple global crises are unfolding in the world. This, in addition to increasing inequalities between and within countries, hampers more than ever our efforts to make labour markets more inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

The ILO’s latest estimates show that the number of hours worked in the world fell in the first quarter of 2022 and remained 3.8 per cent below the level of the fourth quarter of 2019 – and that is equivalent to the loss of 112 million full-time jobs. This represents a significant setback in our recovery process.

In addition, heightened financial turbulence and monetary policy tightening is likely to have a broader impact on labour markets around the world in the months to come. There is a growing risk of a further deterioration in labour markets over the course of 2022.

Furthermore, great divergences in employment and labour income persist. By the end of 2021, employment had returned to pre-crisis levels or even exceeded them in the majority of high-income countries, while deficits persisted in most middle-income economies. In 2021, three out of five workers lived in countries where labour incomes had not yet recovered to their pre-crisis level.

Global inflation, mainly driven by increases in food and energy prices and supply disruptions, adds further risks to the recovery and an erosion of real incomes for workers and their families. In the absence of commensurate wage increases, aggregate demand could fall significantly, and in so doing threaten economic growth and employment.


You are convening today against this sombre background to address issues that are key to making the recovery inclusive and sustainable.

Promoting green employment is key for addressing climate change and accelerating green, low-carbon sustainable development. The potential for the creation of quality employment is high but will only be realised if we have the right policies.

So I am encouraged that your countries are committed to cooperate to ensure a just transition for the workers who will be affected; and to invest in developing the skills that will enable them to harness the opportunities of the green transition. Working together towards a better measurement and statistical definition of green jobs will support the attainment of these objectives.

Investing in skills development for a resilient recovery and to make workers future-ready in the face of digitalisation, demographic shifts and decarbonisation is equally imperative.

When the International Labour Conference held a general discussion on “Skills and lifelong learning” in 2021, it concluded, “adequately resourced policies and strategies should realize inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all, accelerate sustainable development, drive technological advancement and innovation, and promote industrial and structural transformation that adds value in growth sectors, supports micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and promotes a just transition”.

We therefore welcome strongly your engagement to develop effective skills development and lifelong learning systems for the realization of these very concrete objectives.

Finally, Ministers, the protection of workers in new forms of employment, which is your third priority, is paramount for an inclusive and human-centred future of work.

Supporting workers in new forms of employment by providing adequate social protection, actively promoting appropriate regulation, and improving public services for those workers is of major importance if we are to attain decent work for all in rapidly changing circumstances.


To conclude, the BRICS can achieve major progress for social justice by working together. The ILO will continue to offer you our support in this endeavour and continue investing in the exceptional relationship that has built between us over the years since the inception of this track of work 8 years ago.

Let me wish you a very good and a very successful Ministerial Meeting.
I thank you.