x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Global jobs pact urged in bid to avert 'social recession'

Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, heads a high-level delegation to the International Labour Organisation's annual conference starting today in Geneva.

Abu Dhabi // Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, heads a high-level delegation to the International Labour Organisation's annual conference starting today in Geneva, where delegates will discuss an emergency "global jobs pact". This year's International Labour Conference, which runs until June 19, will look at ways to limit the fallout from the global economic crisis on the world's labour market. Juan Somavia, the ILO director-general, has called for "swift and bold action" to prevent a lingering jobs crisis.

In a grim report issued last week, the ILO revised its predictions for global unemployment rates in 2009. In the worst-case scenario it sees a global unemployment rate as high as 7.4 per cent, with 239 million people unemployed - an increase of 59 million people on 2007 levels. "We are seeing an unprecedented increase in unemployment and the number of workers at risk of falling into poverty around the world this year," said Mr Somavia.

"This is cause for grave concern. To avoid a global social recession we need a global jobs pact to address this crisis, and mitigate its effects on people." The pact would be a cohesive strategy to deal with labour-market issues globally, putting job creation and protection at the heart of economic stimulus packages. If this was not done, the recovery of the job market could lag behind an economic rebound by four or five years, the ILO has said.

The organisation predicts that the Middle East will be hit hard by job losses this year, with unemployment rising by up to 25 per cent compared with 2007. "This is why the... conference is considering a global jobs pact aimed at placing employment creation and social protection at the centre of recovery policies," Mr Somavia said. Mr Ghobash is accompanied by a group of 20 representatives from the UAE, including Humaid bin Deemas, the acting director general at the ministry, and Obaid Salem al Zaabi, the UAE's permanent representative at the UN's European headquarters.

lmorris@thenational.ae