UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
File photo of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres | Photo: Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: United Nations Secretary General António Guterres took to Twitter on International Labour Day Friday to highlight the need of creating jobs for people who have lost them due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also said that the coronavirus crisis has made people realise “as never before” how essential workers keep societies functioning.

1 May is observed as the International Labour Day or International Workers’ Day and it stems from the 19th-century labour movement for worker’s rights, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the US.

Hundreds of women, men and children were dying every year due to poor working conditions and long hours. It was around this time that a federation of labour unions in Chicago declared that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour from and after 1 May 1886”.

Also read: Why coronavirus outbreaks could go on until 2024 despite social distancing

Coronavirus and loss of livelihoods

Guterres’ comments came days after an International Labour Organisation (ILO) study said that half of the world’s labour force was in danger of losing their livelihoods.

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The study says that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, (which is almost half the global workforce) are vulnerable to having their livelihoods destroyed due to drop in the total number of working hours across the world. These workers have already suffered massive damage to their capacity of earning livelihoods due to lockdowns around the world.

In India, many migrant workers have died on their journey back home due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The government has now allowed states to arrange for migrants to return home, even as workers across several other sectors have also faced job losses and pay cuts.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 3.3 million people across the world and killed over 2.3 lakh globally.

Also read: Can’t work, can’t go, can’t stay. A virus trilemma for low-cost migrant workers abroad


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