BILLIONS STRUGGLE WITH INADEQUATE WORKING CONDITIONS

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Despite progress in reducing unemployment, work quality is not improving in many parts of the world, according to the
International Labour Organization. Some 3.3 billion people
employed globally in 2018 had inadequate working conditions.

By JENS WORK KRISTENSEN

PROGRESS in reducing unemployment globally is not being matched by improvements in the quality of work.

That’s the main conclusion of the International Labour Organization’s report “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2019”, that was released this week.

According to the ILO, 3.3 billion people employed globally last year had inadequate working conditions and the report points out to poor working conditions as the main global employment challenge.

“Being in employment does not always guarantee a decent living,” said Damian Grimshaw, ILO Director of Research.

“For instance, a full 700 million people are living in extreme or moderate poverty despite having employment.”

In Africa, only 4.5 per cent of the region’s working age population is unemployed, with 60 per cent employed. However, the ILO concluded, that rather than indicating a well-functioning labour market, “this is because many workers have no choice but to take poor quality work, lacking security, decent pay and social protection.”

According to the ILO, the labour force in Africa is projected to expand by more than 14 million per year. Economic growth rates until 2020 are expected to be too low to create enough quality jobs for this fast-growing labour force.

Among the issues highlighted by the ILO is the lack of progress in closing the gender gap in global labour force participation.

Globally, only 48 per cent of women are in the labour force, compared to 75 per cent of men, said the ILO.

Another issue is the persistence of informal employment, with a staggering 2 billion workers – 61 per cent of the world’s workforce – categorized as such, according to ILO figures.

Also of concern is that more than one in five young people (under 25) are not in employment, education or training, compromising their future employment prospects.

The annual report also highlights some progress. According to the ILO, there has also been a great decrease in working poverty in the last 30 years, especially in middle-income countries, and a rise in the number of people in education or training.

Source: ILO.

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