'Bleak picture' for Pacific workers and employers, says International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organisation says the picture is bleak for both workers and employers in the Pacific because of Covid-19.

Tens of thousands of Pacific workers have already either lost their jobs or were on reduced hours.

Elena Gerasimova, from the ILO's Pacific office, said the organisation received requests for support from workers, employers and small to medium businesses.

"There are lots of complications, problems and challenges for workers, employers and governments because there is a serious, very serious impact of the Covid-19 on their employment and on economies.

"Lots of companies are closed while many companies may become bankrupt and people are losing their jobs."

Gerasimova said assessment reports would be sent to local governments.

The ILO said the pandemic had posed "the most severe crisis since World War Two" and was expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours across the world in the second quarter of the year.

The ILO said the safety and health of the workforce was paramount and urged governments to take action to prevent and control the virus in the workplace.

"It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival," ILO director-general Guy Ryder said.

Elena Gerasimova said there was guidance on how international labour standards could be used by Pacific nations during the Covid-19 crisis.

She said assessments had already begun in Fiji and would follow in other Pacific countries "looking at what the demand is there".

"We will also look at which standards are particularly relevant and how various practices may be changed and adopted now to support workers and employers because there is a huge request to support employment, employers and businesses, especially small and medium businesses in this situation.

"Countries have different forms of support and the individual requests for assistance would also differ based on their situations."


Photo/South Pacific Tourist Organisation/David Kirkland Caption: Thousands of Pacific workers have lost their jobs  because of Covid-19.