The director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, talked to Al Jazeera on May 23 about the twin pressures on nations of stopping the spread of coronavirus and meeting the economic needs of their people.
“The drama that we face is that those countries where informality is high and therefore where this dilemma is felt most acutely, they are precisely the countries that have the least resources and capacities to juggle these these two balls in the air at the same time,” he said.
He spoke about how the COVID-19 crisis has redefined our idea about who is an essential workers, and about the high concentration of women in informal and low-paying, precarious work. And he talked about women’s undervalued care work--whether paid or unpaid. Women, he said “are at the sharp end of this pandemic.”
He also emphasized the vulnerabilities of migrant workers and the responsibility of governments to these workers. “We should not treat migrant workers different than other workers. They are entitled to have their livelihoods protected, they’re entitled to have their health protected.”
While he believes this global pandemic has created greater visibility for basic injustices in the world of work, he noted that resolving inequalities will require greater multilateral cooperation to help those countries with poor resources withstand the brunt of this crisis.
“I think the global solidarity level is below what it needs to be.”
Watch the full interview (25 minutes)