‘2nd wave of Covid-19 could result in loss of 340 million full-time jobs’

Agencies
July 1, 2020

The ILO has warned that if another Covid-19 wave hits in the second half of 2020, there would be global working-hour loss of 11.9 percent - equivalent to the loss of 340 million full-time jobs.

According to the 5th edition of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work, the recovery in the global labour market for the rest of the year will be uncertain and incomplete.

The report said that there was a 14 percent drop in global working hours during the second quarter of 2020, equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs.

The number of working hours lost across the world in the first half of 2020 was significantly worse than previously estimated. The highly uncertain recovery in the second half of the year will not be enough to go back to pre-pandemic levels even in the best scenario, the agency warned.

The baseline model – which assumes a rebound in economic activity in line with existing forecasts, the lifting of workplace restrictions and a recovery in consumption and investment – projects a decrease in working hours of 4.9 percent (equivalent to 140 million full-time jobs) compared to last quarter of 2019.

It says that in the pessimistic scenario, the situation in the second half of 2020 would remain almost as challenging as in the second quarter.

“Even if one assumes better-tailored policy responses – thanks to the lessons learned throughout the first half of the year – there would still be a global working-hour loss of 11.9 per cent at the end of 2020, or 340 million full-time jobs, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019,” it said.

The pessimistic scenario assumes a second pandemic wave and the return of restrictions that would significantly slow recovery. The optimistic scenario assumes that workers’ activities resume quickly, significantly boosting aggregate demand and job creation. With this exceptionally fast recovery, the global loss of working hours would fall to 1.2 per cent (34 million full-time jobs).

The agency said that under the three possible scenarios for recovery in the next six months, “none” sees the global job situation in better shape than it was before lockdown measures began.

“This is why we talk of an uncertain but incomplete recovery even in the best of scenarios for the second half of this year. So there is not going to be a simple or quick recovery,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

The new figures reflect the worsening situation in many regions over the past weeks, especially in developing economies. Regionally, working time losses for the second quarter were: Americas (18.3 percent), Europe and Central Asia (13.9 percent), Asia and the Pacific (13.5 percent), Arab States (13.2 percent), and Africa (12.1 percent).

The vast majority of the world’s workers (93 per cent) continue to live in countries with some sort of workplace closures, with the Americas experiencing the greatest restrictions.

During the first quarter of the year, an estimated 5.4 percent of global working hours (equivalent to 155 million full-time jobs) were lost relative to the fourth quarter of 2019. Working- hour losses for the second quarter of 2020 relative to the last quarter of 2019 are estimated to reach 14 per cent worldwide (equivalent to 400 million full-time jobs), with the largest reduction (18.3 per cent) occurring in the Americas.

The ILO Monitor also found that women workers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, creating a risk that some of the modest progress on gender equality made in recent decades will be lost, and that work-related gender inequality will be exacerbated.

The severe impact of Covid-19 on women workers relates to their over-representation in some of the economic sectors worst affected by the crisis, such as accommodation, food, sales and manufacturing.

Globally, almost 510 million or 40 percent of all employed women work in the four most affected sectors, compared to 36.6 percent of men, it said.

The report said that women also dominate in the domestic work and health and social care work sectors, where they are at greater risk of losing their income and of infection and transmission and are also less likely to have social protection.

The pre-pandemic unequal distribution of unpaid care work has also worsened during the crisis, exacerbated by the closure of schools and care services.

Even as countries have adopted policy measures with unprecedented speed and scope, the ILO Monitor highlights some key challenges ahead, including finding the right balance and sequencing of health, economic and social and policy interventions to produce optimal sustainable labour market outcomes; implementing and sustaining policy interventions at the necessary scale when resources are likely to be increasingly constrained and protecting and promoting the conditions of vulnerable, disadvantaged and hard-hit groups to make labour markets fairer and more equitable.

“The decisions we adopt now will echo in the years to come and beyond 2030. Although countries are at different stages of the pandemic and a lot has been done, we need to redouble our efforts if we want to come out of this crisis in a better shape than when it started,” Ryder said. 

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News Network
December 2,2020

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A US federal judge on Tuesday blocked rule changes ordered by President Donald Trump making it harder for people to get skilled-worker visas.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council and others had sued the Department of Homeland Security arguing that the changes rushed new restrictions through without a proper public review process.

Skilled-worker visas, referred to as H1-B visas, are precious to Silicon Valley tech firms hungry for engineers and other highly trained talents.

US District Court Judge Jeffrey White granted a motion to set aside two rules by the departments of Labor and Homeland Security that would have compelled companies to pay H1-B visa workers higher wages and trimmed job types that qualify for the visas.

The Trump administration had cited the Covid-19 pandemic and its toll on the economy as reasons for skipping required public notice and review processes, according to court documents.

"This is a major win for our economy and for our ability to recover from the worst downturn in generations," said Bay Area Council chief executive Jim Wunderman.

"The Bay Area and America must continue to be a place where anyone around the world can come to pursue their dream or dream job," he said.

Wunderman added that many thriving Northern California tech firms were founded by entrepreneurs who first came to the US on visas.

"H-1B workers fill an important need in our economy and provide immense benefits not only to the companies they work for but the communities where they live," Wunderman said.

"Closing the door to talent from around the world will drive those skills and the opportunities they create to other countries who are more welcoming. In the end that means fewer US jobs."

Wunderman said the rushed restrictions were part of what he called a concerted effort by the Trump administration to clamp down on all kinds of immigration.

White said in his ruling that the US did not demonstrate "that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic unemployment justified dispensing with the due deliberation that normally accompanies" making changes to the H-1B visa program.

Evidence regarding unemployment rates most relevant to H-1B visa applications did not show a "dire emergency," White said.

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News Network
November 29,2020

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Battling global adversity over the coronavirus and bracing for a WHO inquiry over its origin, China on Friday claimed that just because COVID-19 cases were first reported in Wuhan does not mean the contagion originated from the central Chinese city.

Various outlets of the state-run Chinese media have been carrying reports in recent days stating that a number of imported food products from different countries, including a consignment of fish from India, were found to have traces of the COVID-19 alleging that the virus may have entered China through foreign routes.

Asked whether that is China's official view too, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that even though China was the first to report coronavirus but doesn't necessarily mean China is where the virus originated.

So we believe the origin process is a complex scientific issue which requires joint efforts on COVID-19 cooperation from the scientific community worldwide. Only by doing so we can guard against future risks because origin tracing is an evolving and sustained process that involves many countries and regions, he said.

His response came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) team to investigate the origin of the virus is due to arrive in China, even though Beijing is yet to give a timeline.

There is also a sense of relief here that US President Donald Trump who launched a tirade against China over COVID-19 terming it as China virus is on his way out. Trump also denounced the WHO alleging that it is virtually controlled by China.

Besides halting funding for the WHO, the Trump administration has formally notified the UN of its decision to withdraw the US from the global health body but US President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin it.

The coronavirus cases emerged in Wuhan in December last year before turning into a global pandemic with the worldwide death toll crossing over 1.4 million.

China besides denying the US allegations that the virus emerged from a secretive bio-lab in Wuhan also refuted allegations that it emanated from a wet market in the city from bats or pangolins before infecting humans.

The market has been sealed off ever since.

In May, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the 194-member states of the WHO, approved a resolution to set up an independent inquiry to conduct an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response as well as that of WHO.

It also asked the WHO to investigate the "source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population".

China, which has backed the inquiry with a rider that it should commence after the coronavirus was brought under control, said it is getting ready to receive the WHO experts' team.

WHO emergency expert Dr Mike Ryan told the media early this week that his organisation has had assurances from China that an international field trip to investigate the origins of the new coronavirus will be arranged as soon as possible.

"We fully expect that we will have a team on the ground, Ryan was quoted as saying by the state-run CGTN on November 25.

Ryan said the Wuhan market, where the virus is reported to have originated, is "likely to have been a point of amplification" of virus transmission, but whether that was by human, animal or environmental spread is not yet known, the report quoted him saying.

He said that there had been human cases that preceded that event, according to the CGTN report.

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Agencies
November 25,2020

Gurgaon, Nov 25Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, one of Sonia Gandhi's closest political advisers, died at a Gurgaon hospital this morning. He was 71. The veteran politician had been at Medanta Hospital since his health worsened after a Covid infection. In a tweet at around 4 am, his son, Faisal Patel, said that the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat died at 3.30 am.

"With profound grief & sorrow, I regret to announce the sad and untimely demise of my father, Mr. Ahmed Patel at 25/11/2020, 03:30 AM. After testing positive for COVID-19 around a month back, his health worsened further due to multiple organ failures. May Allah grant him Jannatul firdaus, inshallah," he tweeted, requesting all their well-wishers to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations by avoiding mass gatherings.

Messages of condolences and tributes poured in soon after the announcement of Mr Patel's death.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi remembered the seasoned politician, saying "his role in strengthening the Congress Party would always be remembered".

"Saddened by the demise of Ahmed Patel Ji. He spent years in public life, serving society. Known for his sharp mind, his role in strengthening the Congress Party would always be remembered. Spoke to his son Faisal and expressed condolences. May Ahmed Bhai's soul rest in peace," PM Modi tweeted.

Top Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called Mr Patel a "pillar of the Congress party". "He lived and breathed Congress and stood with the party through its most difficult times. He was a tremendous asset. We will miss him. My love and condolences to Faisal, Mumtaz & the family," Mr Gandhi tweeted.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Mr Patel was an experienced colleague to whom she "constantly turned for advice and counsel".

"...he was a friend who stood by us all, steadfast, loyal, and dependable to the end," she tweeted.

Ahmed Patel, also the treasurer of the Congress, had tested positive for the COVID-19 on October 1 and had been admitted to the ICU of Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon on November 15.

On October 1, Mr Patel, while disclosing that he was tested positive for coronavirus, had urged all those who came in contact with him in past few days to undergo self-isolation.

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