COVID-19 and Labour Market Impact

Opening address at the Workers consultation on the COVID-19 labour market impact in the Philippines: Assessment and policy responses

By Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Workers consultation on the COVID-19 labour market impact in the Philippines: Assessment and policy responses, 14 August 2020, Manila, Philippines via WebEx

Statement | Manila, Philippines via WebEx | 14 August 2020
  • Dear brothers and sisters representing workers organizations and trade unions;
  • Colleagues from the Australian Embassy;
  • Colleagues from the ILO and our Decent Work Team in Bangkok - Felix, Phu, Ravi and Arun;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
A very warm welcome to all of you to this Workers consultation on the COVID-19 labour market impact in the Philippines.

You must be observing that the future trajectory could lead to higher unemployment, poverty, inequality, high level of death, even high level of frustration and anger.

The ILO’s latest analysis of the labour market impact of COVID-19 finds its impact on the world of work more severe than previously estimated.

These global estimates reflect a worsening situation in many regions, especially in developing economies. Looking forward, to the rest of the year, we see a recovery that is incomplete and highly uncertain.

The trajectory it follows will depend on the policy choices and coordinated responses to protect both enterprises and workers.

We are all aware that social dialogue with the involvement of employers and workers’ organizations are highly important and necessary to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Large-scale, integrated, policy measures are needed, focusing on four pillars: stimulating the economy and jobs; supporting enterprises, employment and incomes; protecting workers in the workplace including occupational safety and health; and, using social dialogue.

Moreover, fundamental principles and rights at work and other international labour standards provide a strong basis for the development and implementation of measures to address the impact of COVID-19 at the national level

We acknowledge actions by the Philippine government, different employers, workers and other stakeholders within these four pillars.

The COVID-19 crisis has greatly affected everyone worldwide. But workers in healthcare, as well as those working in essential sectors, have taken the biggest risks, with their health and safety at work insufficiently protected too often.

At the same time, millions of workers at the lower end of our labour markets, in precarious jobs or the informal economy, have suffered from lockdown measures and are paying a high price, losing their jobs and livelihoods without enjoying proper protection.

As countries face these challenges, the importance of workers' organizations and trade unions within a functional tripartite social dialogue system become paramount. This is in view of the fact that the only way we can reshape the social, economic and environmental protection systems post-crisis is through cooperation embedded in strong social dialogue institutions and culture.

The ILO continuously promotes the key role that social justice, social dialogue and respect for workers’ rights must play in any plan to deal with the current crisis and the recovery from it.

This COVID-19 labour market impact report of the ILO, jointly funded with the Australian Government, aims to examine the multidimensional impact on employment and the labour market. It provides an account of the evolution of COVID-19 in the Philippines and its economic impact in the first half of 2020.

Building on baseline labour market data prior to the onset of COVID-19 and the April 2020 labour force survey, the report provides insights into the preliminary employment and labour market effects and identifies sectors experiencing high impact on their economic output due to the crisis.

In the context of increasing calls for digitalization, the report further attempts to identify occupations and sectors facing a dual challenge of high impact due to COVID-19 job disruption and the disruptive effective of digitalization.

The assessment also aims to shed light on the disproportional impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable population groups.

Today’s consultation will discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers as well as its risks and opportunities for workers organizations.

The ILO is also eager to hear policy actions needed towards decent and productive employment, skills development and rights at work in the socio-economic recovery.

The ILO calls for a human-centred COVID-19 response and recovery in building a better normal. As the Director-General said “We need to redouble our efforts if we want to come out in a better shape than when it started. We must all step up to the challenge of building a better future of work.”

It is our hope that this initiative will inform the development of programmes and policies to better facilitate a recovery in the labour market that is sustainable and equitable.

Finally, I wish you all a productive and successful consultation, and continued collaboration towards achieving a more inclusive, sustainable development model and to making societies more resilient. It is by working together that we can help each other and build a better future of work.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!