ILO Director-General calls for a global jobs pact to urgently tackle the employment and social protection consequences of the economic crisis

Warning of a possible six to eight year employment and social protection crisis
due to the economic downturn, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-
General Juan Somavia called on delegates to the 98th International Labour
Conference to adopt a "Global Jobs Pact."

Mr. Somavia cited a range of dire economic challenges facing the world of work,
ranging from rising unemployment and increasing poverty to stress on
businesses, adding, "all of this put together means that the world may be
looking at a jobs and social protection crisis of six to eight years duration."

He also said the global economy will need to create around 300 million new jobs
up to 2015 just to keep up with the increase in the labour force, adding "but
things are going in the opposite direction" and "unemployment is projected to
continue rising at least until the end of 2010, maybe 2011."

Noting that there are signs that the economic downturn may be losing speed, he
said "we know from past crises that employment recovers pre-crisis levels with
a lag of between four and five years on average."

"Our tripartite responsibility is to propose policies that significantly reduce
the lag in employment recovery", Mr. Somavia told the plenary. He said a global
Pact would imply a commitment by the ILO tripartite constituency to make
employment and social protection a central element of all economic and social
policies; and promote a productive vision led by investment and enterprises,
social protection and job creation.

"Much will depend on the success of overall economic and social policies and
stimulus packages adopted by countries and a functioning financial sector," he
said. "Our immediate task is to fashion a strong tripartite agreement on a
recovery through Decent Work policies."

"The Pact is not an international legal obligation," he said. "It is an
agreement on common policy approaches, eventually leading to national and
international programmes."

Mr. Somavia said the proposed Global Jobs Pact is based on a series of tried
and tested policies which, if adopted in a comprehensive fashion, could "reduce
social tensions, protect people in the downturn and, most importantly,
stimulate aggregate demand and prepare the growth of tomorrow".

"So I call on you, on the tripartite International Labour Conference - the
highest governance instance of the ILO - to shape and fashion your Global Jobs
Pact as a national, regional and global initiative to help workers, families
and enterprises weather the first systemic crisis of the global economy and
build the foundations of a decent work path to recovery and sustainable
growth," Mr. Somavia said.

More than 10 Heads of State and government, six vice presidents, Ministers of
labour, workers and employers and other economic and labour leaders are to
participate in an ILO Jobs Summit on 15-16 June at this year's ILO meeting.
Nearly 4,000 delegates from the Organization''s 183 Member States are expected
to attend the 16 day Conference in Geneva.

The Conference opened amid what Mr. Somavia referred to as "a change of era".
He recalled that "the costs of the crisis are widely distributed. The benefits
of earlier growth were highly concentrated."

"Putting people first - not just saying it but doing it - has to be the
priority," Mr. Somavia said.

More info - Source: International Labour Organization