Effective social dialogue and cooperation between the tripartite bodies – government, employers and unions – are indispensable in the designing and implementing appropriate strategies and policies that address the COVID-19 crisis. This is contained in a recent report by the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Bureau for the Workers’ Activities.
The report highlighted the need for global-scale responses based on effective social dialogue to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The global trend analysis on the role of trade unions in times of pandemic revealed that 81 per cent of countries used social dialogue in response to the pandemic to achieve a consensus on targeted measures to protect workers and enterprises.
Director of ACTRAV, Maria Andre, said nations needed to reinforce social dialogue to ensure a lasting, sustainable and inclusive recovery, where no one is left behind. She maintained that strong, independent, knowledgeable and representative trade unions, as well as global solidarity, are more relevant than ever for achieving a brighter future amid pandemic.
The report recommended the need for trade unions to ensure that the temporary measures adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are a stepping-stone toward a sound recovery, focusing on a medium to a long-term perspective in line with the priorities identified in the ILO’s policy framework for responding to the pandemic crisis.
It said trade unions should regard the crisis as a wake-up call for contributing towards better and more inclusive labour and social agenda as they continue to play an important role as vehicles of democracy and advocates of social justice. It stressed trade unions’ agenda for resilience and empowerment should aim to: build political will, contribute to strengthening social dialogue mechanisms, build knowledge and capacity, increase representative capacity, continue to promote workers’ priorities, provide new services, expand partnerships, engage with the United Nations (UN) processes on sustainable development, share information and learn from previous crises.
The document stresses also an increase of violations of workers and trade union rights across the world as a result of the measures adopted by governments. These violations include, non-compliance with labour regulations with regard to layoffs, working hours and the payment of wages and a disregard of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations.
Among other recommendations to governments and employers’ organisations, it stated the requests for immediate action to include universal health care, extended sickness, unemployment and family benefits, cash transfers, job and income security, financial support to enterprises, compliance with OSH regulations, the provision of in-kind benefits and the recognition of COVID-19 as an employment injury.