Bangladesh is among the countries that are forecast to face the highest decline in working hours in the first half of 2019 as the raging novel coronavirus continues to put economies on lockdown and factories closed, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said yesterday.
The estimated hours lost for the lower-middle-income countries, which include Bangladesh, were 1.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the pre-crisis baseline.
The loss rose to 12.5 per cent in the second quarter, according to the 'ILO Monitor third edition: COVID-19 and the world of work', which was released yesterday.
Low-income countries are expected to lose 8.8 per cent in the working hours compared with 1.6 per cent in the first quarter, the upper-middle income countries 8.7 per cent working hours, up from 8.6 per cent in the first quarter, and the high-income countries 11.6 percent of the working hours, which is way higher than 1.6 per cent in the first quarter.
"The crisis is causing an unprecedented reduction in economic activity and working time," the ILO said.
Bangladesh has been enforcing lockdown since March 26, two weeks after it reported the country's maiden coronavirus infections, shutting factories and industries, suspending transport movement, closing offices and banning gatherings, as part of its measures aimed at flattening the curve on deadly virus.
The measures left most of the workers unemployed.
The continued sharp decline in working hours globally due to the COVID-19 outbreak means that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy -- that is nearly half of the global workforce -- stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed, the ILO said.
The drop in working hours in the second quarter of 2020 is expected to be significantly worse than previously estimated.
Worldwide, more than 436 million enterprises face high risks of serious disruption. These enterprises are operating in the hardest-hit economic sectors, including some 232 million in wholesale and retail, 111 million in manufacturing, 51 million in accommodation and food services, and 42 million in real estate and other business activities.
The ILO calls for urgent, targeted and flexible measures to support workers and businesses, particularly smaller enterprises, those in the informal economy and others who are vulnerable.
"For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing. They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don't help them now, they will simply perish," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a press release.
Measures for economic reactivation should follow a job-rich approach, backed by stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems, the ILO said.
International co-ordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures will also be critical to making recovery effective and sustainable. International labour standards, which already enjoy tripartite consensus, can provide a framework.