By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - The COVID-19 crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 -- equivalent to 195 million full-time workers, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said Tuesday.
"Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, addressing journalists via video conference.
"We have to move fast, decisively and together. The right, urgent measures could make the difference between survival and collapse," he said from the ILO headquarters in Geneva.
Ryder underlined that substantial reductions in employment were foreseen in Arab countries with 8.1% or 5 million full-time employees, Europe with 7.8% or 12 million full-time workers and Asia and the Pacific with 7.2% or 125 million full-time workers.
The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail and business and administrative activities.
Massive losses are expected across different income groups, but especially in upper-middle-income countries of 7%, translating to 100 million full-time workers.
"This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis," said Ryder.
"Perhaps more strikingly, that reduction translates into the loss in three months of 195 million full-time jobs equivalent around the world and this is calculated with the basic assumption of a working week of 40 hours," he explained.
"If you look at the economic and social issues we are discussing today, they are in effect a direct consequence of deliberate policymaking in the field of health," he added.
Ryder said the ILO, which represents organized labor, employers and countries, supported an integrated approach to the health, economic and social dimensions of the pandemic as is taken by the UN.
The eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 will depend substantially on future developments and policy measures.
"There is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection of 25 million," said Ryder.
The ILO said that more than four out of five people -- 81% -- in the global workforce of 3.3 billion were currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.