ILO / COVID-19 INFORMAL WORKERS

07-May-2020 00:02:48
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that as many as 1.6 billion of the world’s two billion informal economy workers are affected by COVID-19 lockdown and containment measures and face the "dilemma of choosing between dying from hunger and dying from the disease." ILO
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STORY: ILO / COVID-19 INFORMAL WORKERS
TRT: 2:48
SOURCE: ILO
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / FRENCH / SPANISH / NATS

DATELINE: MAY 2020, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
APRIL 2020, KAMPALA, TANZANIA

1. Wide shot, venders at food markets on side of road

MAY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Judith Van Doorn, Specialist on enterprise formalization, International Labour Organization (ILO):
“The ILO estimates that 1.6 billion informal workers are affected by the pandemic and they face a dilemma of choosing between dying from hunger and dying from the disease. Informal enterprises face similar challenges. As these workers nor enterprises are not registered, they can’t benefit from Government support. The ILO proposes four measures: firstly, to reduce the exposure to the disease; secondly, to provide access to health care; thirdly, to provide income and food support and lastly to preserve jobs and keep businesses afloat. And all of this underlined with social dialogue.”

APRIL 2020, KAMPALA, TANZANIA

3. Wide shot, venders at food markets on side of road

MAY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

4. SOUNDBITE (French) Frédéric Lapeyre, Head Informal Economy Unit, International Labour Organization (ILO):
"The containment measures implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are severely affecting nearly 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, as well as the multitude of micro and small enterprises that comprise it. For a large proportion of those operating in the informal economy, the dilemma is whether they will die from hunger or the virus, as they are often unregistered and do not have access to government support programmes. Without an alternative, their risky practices undermine the effectiveness of public policies to prevent the spread of the virus. Faced with this challenge, immediate responses based on social dialogue are needed. They must aim to reduce exposure to the virus and the risks of contagion, guarantee access to health care for all, provide income and food support to compensate for the loss of economic activity and, finally, reduce and prevent damage to the economic fabric and preserve jobs. ”


APRIL 2020, KAMPALA, TANZANIA

5. Wide shot, venders at food markets

MAY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

6. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Maria Marta Travieso, Labour Law Specialist, International Labour Organization (ILO):
"Confinement measures to address COVID-19 are estimated to have a significant impact on 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy. Many workers face the dilemma between dying of hunger and dying of the virus. Eight out of ten enterprises in the world that are in the informal economy face similar problems and are also beyond the reach of government support programmes. This is why immediate and innovative responses are needed within the framework of a broad social dialogue to reduce exposure to the virus and the risks of contagion, to ensure access to health, to provide income and food support to compensate for the loss of economic activity, and to reduce the damage to enterprises while preserving employment.

APRIL 2020, KAMPALA, TANZANIA

7. Wide shot, venders at food markets
STORYLINE
COVID-19 lockdown and containment measures threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world’s informal economy workers by as much as 56 percentage points in low-income countries, according to a new briefing paper issued by the International Labour Organization.

In high-income countries, relative poverty levels among informal workers is estimated to increase by 52 percentage points, while in upper middle-income countries the increase is estimated to be 21 percentage points.

As many as 1.6 billion of the world’s two billion informal economy workers are affected by lockdown and containment measures. Most are working in the hardest-hit sectors or in small units more vulnerable to shocks.

These include workers in accommodation and food services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and the more than 500 million farmers producing for the urban market. Women are particularly affected in high-risk sectors, the report says.

In addition, with these workers needing to work to feed their families, COVID-19 containment measures in many countries cannot be implemented successfully. This is endangering governments’ efforts to protect the population and fight the pandemic. It may become a source of social tension in countries with large informal economies, the report says.

More than 75 per cent of total informal employment takes place in businesses of fewer than ten workers, including 45 per cent of independent workers without employees.

With most informal workers having no other means of support, they face an almost unsolvable dilemma: to die from hunger or from the virus, the briefing says. This has been exacerbated by disruptions in food supplies, which has particularly affected those in the informal economy.

For the world’s 67 million domestic workers, 75 per cent of whom are informal workers, unemployment has become as threatening as the virus itself. Many have not been able to work, whether at the request of their employers or in compliance with lockdowns. Those who do continue to go to work face a high risk of contagion, caring for families in private households. For the 11 million migrant domestic workers the situation is even worse.

“The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating already existing vulnerabilities and inequalities,” says Philippe Marcadent, Chief of the ILO’s INWORK branch. “Policy responses must ensure that support reaches the workers and enterprises who need it most.”

The countries with the largest informal economies where full lockdowns have been adopted, are suffering the most from the consequences of the pandemic. Informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown varies from 89 per cent in Latin America and the Arab States to 83 per cent in Africa, 73 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, and 64 per cent in Europe and Central Asia.

Countries need to follow a multi-track strategy that combines several lines of actions relating to both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, says the ILO.

Among its recommendations, the report highlights the need for policies that reduce the exposure of informal workers to the virus; ensure that those infected have access to health care; provide income and food support to individuals and their families; and prevent damage to the economic fabric of countries.
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