BUENOS AIRES (ILO News) – ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, has stressed the need for Latin America to focus on creating more employment, while at the same time improving the quality of existing jobs in the ubiquitous informal sector.
“We need to maintain policies focused on job-creation,” he said, after talks in Buenos Aires with Argentine President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
While Latin America has shown remarkable resilience, with unemployment levels dropping, it should not let down its guard as the crisis could still sting. And the region faces a major challenge in improving the quality of existing jobs, Ryder said.
ILO figures show that 47 per cent of Latin America’s non-agricultural employment is in the informal sector. In Argentina, the figure is estimated at 35 per cent.
“The formalization of informal work is a challenge of our times and a responsibility shared by governments, workers and employers,” Ryder said.
The informal economy is the main source of employment in many developing countries, where it allows millions of people to escape extreme poverty. But the work is often badly paid, with no job security or social benefits.
Ryder said he discussed with the Argentine president the need to place job-creation high up on the agenda for G20 discussions.
He acknowledged that the situation in Latin America was a far cry from that in crisis-hit European countries like Spain where, “a young person is more likely not to have a job than to have one.”
He hailed what he said was Argentina’s commitment to jobs and social inclusion, pointing out that while growth in Latin America may have slowed, “the atmosphere is much more positive than in other, crisis-hit regions.”
The ILO director-general held talks with Labour, Employment and Social Security Minister, Carlos Tomada, with leaders of the four main trade unions and with leading employers.
Following his January 28-29 visit to Argentina, Ryder headed to Peru.