Lessons drawn from COVID-19 discussed at ILO

COVID-19 and work were discussed by world leaders at a virtual summit organized by the International Labor Organization, (ILO). The head of the organisation claimed that the pandemic had plunged the world of work into an unprecedented crisis.

In a message during the summit, Prime Minister Robert Abela spoke about the positive effects of the economic measures that were introduced by the government during the pandemic and said that once again this had shown the importance of social dialogue where the voice of workers and employers was crucial and valued.

Prime Minister Robert Abela drew on three lessons for global society from the pandemic. In a speech to the International Labor Summit on the impact of Covid 19 on workers and social justice, Dr Abela said the pandemic had highlighted the importance of international institutions such as the World Health Organization.

He added that the second lesson was the importance of making greater use of technology in the world of work, which he said could have an important impact in solving problems such as climate change. The Prime Minister said that the pandemic also showed the value of social dialogue where the voice of workers and employers was given importance. He argued that countries with active social dialogue were doing much better than other countries.

“Malta being one of the most open economies in the world, with such a dependence on tourism, is an example of how a greater social cohesion is the best response to the pandemic. At the height of the medical emergency, government brought together employers and trade unions and forged, a new social pact. We agreed that instead of just legislating a minimum wage until the economic shock persists, government would pay an ammount higher than the minimum wage to all” PM Robert Abela.

The Prime Minister listed the measures taken by Malta in the economic and social field to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. He said that thanks to this Malta had managed to limit the impact on the economy. Dr Abela expressed confidence that Malta would emerge faster from the effects of the pandemic.

He said it was worth looking at what happened more than 100 years ago in similar circumstances. He noted that there were governments that provided economic support and others that followed austerity, those that adopted economic nationalism and those who remained open to foreign trade and investment. The Prime Minister stated that history had shown that a more active participation on the part of the Government together with an open orientation were the solutions that worked.

The ILO summit was held amid research that showed that 93 percent of the world’s workers are facing some form of impact on their jobs due to the pandemic. In Malta the impact according to NSO figures was felt by around 62 per cent of employees.

The head of the International labor Organisation, Guy Ryder, said that in the circumstances one should not look at health or jobs in isolation because they were linked.

“Let’s be clear: it’s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy. They are interlinked: we will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts,” Head of ILO, Guy Ryder.