The International Labour Organization (ILO) says the slow COVID-19 vaccination is reducing the working hours for many low-income countries in Africa, including Nigeria.
The Organization said the African region saw a 5.6 percent loss of hours worked in the third quarter of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
In a statement on Wednesday, the ILO added that Europe and Central Asia experienced the smallest loss of hours worked, compared to pre-pandemic levels (2.5 percent), followed by Asia and the Pacific at 4.6 percent.
It noted that America and Arab States showed declines of 5.4 and 6.5 percent, respectively.
The ILO estimated that if low-income countries had more equitable access to vaccines, working-hour recovery would catch up with richer economies in just over one quarter.
It said that the loss of working hours in 2021 because of the pandemic will be significantly higher than previously estimated, as a two-speed recovery between developed and developing nations threatens the global economy as a whole.
The ILO is now projecting that global hours worked in 2021 will be 4.3 percent below pre-pandemic levels (the fourth quarter of 2019), the equivalent of 125 million full-time jobs.
This represents a dramatic revision of the ILO’s June projection of 3.5 percent or 100 million full-time jobs.
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The eighth edition of the ‘ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work,’ warns that without concrete financial and technical support, a “great divergence” in employment recovery trends between developed and developing countries will persist.
In the third quarter of 2021, total hours worked in high-income countries were 3.6 percent lower than the fourth quarter of 2019. By contrast, the gap in low-income countries stood at 5.7 percent and in lower-middle-income countries, at 7.3 percent.
Globally, it said losses in hours worked – in the absence of any vaccines – would have stood at 6.0 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, rather than the 4.8 per cent actually recorded.
However, the highly uneven roll-out of vaccinations means that the positive effect was largest in high-income countries, negligible in lower-middle-income countries and almost zero in low-income countries.
These imbalances could be rapidly and effectively addressed through greater global solidarity in respect of vaccines.
“The current trajectory of labour markets is of a stalled recovery, with major downside risks appearing, and a great divergence between developed and developing economies,” the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, said.
“Dramatically, unequal vaccine distribution and fiscal capacities are driving these trends and both need to be addressed urgently.”
“At the ILO, we have already started to act. Last June, the International Labour Conference adopted a Global Call to Action for a human-centred COVID-19 recovery, a roadmap that commits countries to ensuring that their economic and social recovery from the crisis is fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient.”
“It is time to implement this roadmap, which is fully aligned with and supports the UN’s Common Agenda and its Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection,” Ryder added.