The coronavirus pandemic could trigger a global economic crisis, destroying up to 25 million jobs around the world if governments do not act fast to shield workers from the impact, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has said.
"However, if we see an internationally coordinated policy response, as happened in the global financial crisis of 2008/9, then the impact on global unemployment could be significantly lower," ILO said on Wednesday.
The organisation called for urgent, large-scale and coordinated measures to protect workers in the workplace, stimulate the economy and support jobs and incomes.
Such measures should include extending social protection, supporting employment retention through short-time work or paid leave, as well as financial and tax relief, including for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, ILO added.
Based on different scenarios for the impact of the pandemic on global economic growth, ILO estimated global unemployment would rise by between 5.3 million ("low" scenario) and 24.7 million ("high" scenario). By comparison, the 2008/9 global financial crisis increased global unemployment by 22 million.
"This is no longer only a global health crisis, it is also a major labour market and economic crisis that is having a huge impact on people," ILO Director General Guy Ryder said.
"In 2008, the world presented a united front to address the consequences of the global financial crisis, and the worst was averted. We need that kind of leadership and resolve now," he added.