Government, business leaders gather to tackle global jobs crisis – UN

3 June 2009 – A United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting, drawing Heads of Governments and industry, kicked off today, seeking to find ways to address the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on employment and social protection.

This year’s ILO annual Conference, to be held from 3-19 June, will discuss how to protect workers, families and enterprises from the turmoil and how to promote speedy economic and employment recovery.

According to the agency, during the 2007-2009 period, between 210 million and 239 million persons would be unemployed, representing global unemployment rates of 6.5 and 7.4 per cent respectively, or increases of between 39 and 59 million unemployed people since 2007.

“We are seeing an unprecedented increase in unemployment and the number of workers at risk of falling into poverty around the world this year,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said last month.

“This is cause for grave concern. To avoid a global social recession we need a global jobs pact to address this crisis, and mitigate its effects on people. The choice is ours and the time to act is now.”

ILO projections indicate that 200 million workers are at risk of joining the ranks of people living on less than $2 per day between 2007 and 2009.

Further, the number of unemployed youth is expected to increase by between 11 and 17 million from 2008-2009, with the youth unemployment rate projected to increase from around 12 per cent in 2008 to up to 15 per cent in 2009.

Participants at the Conference, which got under way today, will also confer on gender equality and decent work, as well as on the application of labour standards. They will consider developing a new ILO standard on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

From 15-17 June, the ILO Summit on the Global Jobs Crisis is expected to be attended by nearly one dozen heads of State and government, along with vice-presidents, labour ministers and union leaders from the ILO’s 183 Member States.

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