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International Labour Conference urges ILO Director-General to take message for action on youth employment and social protection to G20 leaders

Press release | 15 June 2012
GENEVA (ILO Press release) – Hundreds of delegates from all over the world – trade unionists, employers and ministers for employment – expressed alarm at the risk of drifting into another crisis that could severely damage prospects for decent work.

Four years into the recovery the global employment situation remains extremely challenging and the outlook worrying.

Across G20 countries, some 84 million people are unemployed. Forty-four per cent or 37 million are young women and men. Close to 300 million people are in low productivity, non-agriculture informal employment across emerging economies. In the European Union, over 24 million people are unable to find jobs.

Labour force participation rates have declined significantly in several countries. The long-term impact of this is serious, with more people out of a job for over 12 months and the young the most vulnerable.

“Representatives of the world of work have a clear message to the G20 for action on youth employment and national social protection floors,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia as he left for the Los Cabos G20 Summit.

These are the two priority areas that G20 leaders signalled at their last meeting in Cannes, calling upon the ILO, in collaboration with other international organizations, to support their work.

“In these highly uncertain times, when hundreds of millions of people see their aspirations towards employment and decent work wane, G20 leaders must hear and act to restore confidence in labour markets,” stated Juan Somavia.

“When people stop fearing a lay-off notice and see decent wages again, their confidence will spread to investors in the real economy,” he added.

The International Labour Conference (which finished in Geneva on Thursday) adopted a “Call for Action on Youth Employment” with a detailed portfolio of policy proposals and measures that have been tried and tested to tackle the growing number of young women and men without work.

The Conference also adopted a new “Recommendation on the Construction of National Social Protection Floors” designed to reduce poverty by filling gaps in social support systems.

An agreement was also reached on a programme to protect and promote fundamental principles and rights at work.

"People will assess the success of the G20 through its action for economic recovery and financial stabilization through employment and intensive growth. Decent work is what people expect all over the world. It should be a major goal of cooperative action of G20 countries," Mr. Somavia added.

Leaders can draw on the conclusions recently prepared by G20 Labour and Employment Ministers (Guadalajara, Mexico 18-19 May 2012); on the joint report prepared by the ILO, IMF, OECD and World Bank on “Boosting Jobs and Living Standards in G20 Countries"; on the ILO Global Jobs Pact through which several countries recovered more rapidly; and on the three instruments recently adopted by the International Labour Conference: the new ILO Recommendation on national floors of social protection; the unanimously adopted Call for Action on the Youth Employment Crisis; and on the Action Plan for Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work also adopted by the Conference.

Action for jobs and jobs for people is more than just action for growth, just as action for growth is not confined to financial stabilization and fiscal consolidation. Jobs and people merit the priority attention of G20 leaders.

“Growth is indispensable but can no longer be the sole criteria for the world economy. Creating quality jobs, especially for youth, reducing poverty and informal work, providing fair access to opportunities, especially to foster large middle classes, gradually achieving universal coverage of social protection floors, should be criteria to measure macroeconomic success,” said Mr. Somavia.