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ILO: Global Unemployment Rises to More than 200 Million

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Ivanka Trump, right, speaks during a session on action to end forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking at UN headquarters. voa

Global unemployment this year stands at more than 201 million, an increase of 3.4 million compared to 2016, says the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The ILO says the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, plays a crucial role in creating decent jobs around the world.

The ILO study (World Employment and Social Outlook 2017: Sustainable Enterprises and Jobs) reports private businesses account for nearly 3 billion workers or 87 percent of total global employment. It says a strong public sector is a foundation for growth, job creation and poverty reduction.

Deborah Greenfield, the ILO deputy director general for policy, says investing in workers is a key to sustainability. She also says providing formal training for permanent employees results in higher wages, higher productivity and lower unit labor costs. Greenfield says temporary workers are at a disadvantage.

“But, intensified use of temporary employment is associated with lower wages and lower productivity without achieving any gains in unit labor costs,” Greenfield said. “The report also finds that on-the-job training is an important driver of innovation. Since temporary workers are rarely offered training, this might also affect innovation in firms in a negative way.”

The ILO report says in some cases, innovation has led to the hiring of more temporary workers, mainly women. It notes, however, that while this might be beneficial in the short term, in the long term, it depresses wages and leads to lower productivity because of the instability of temporary work and lack of benefits.

The report, however, finds innovation increases competitiveness and job creation for enterprises. It says innovative firms tend to be more productive, employ more educated workers, offer more training and hire more female workers. voa

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ILO Calling for Revisions to Address Physical, Psychological Problems Stemming from Changing Job World

U.N. labor agency says existing methods of protecting workers from accidents and disease are not good enough to deal with new occupational hazards arising from changes in the nature of work

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FILE - A worker programs a tablet to control SAM, a semi-automated mason, as it works on the facade of a school in the south Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado, Feb. 27, 2018. VOA

The U.N. labor agency says existing methods of protecting workers from accidents and disease are not good enough to deal with new occupational hazards arising from changes in the nature of work. The International Labor Organization (ILO) is calling for revisions to address physical and psychological problems stemming from the changing job world.

In a new report, ILO estimates find 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year. It says more than 374 million people are injured or fall ill every year through work-related accidents. The cost to the world economy from work days lost is nearly four percent of global Gross Domestic Product.

The ILO’s report warns the changes and dangers posed by an increase in technology could result in a worsening of that situation. It says new measures must be implemented to deal with the psycho-social risks, work-related stress and non-communicable diseases resulting from new forms of work.

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FILE – Technicians make final inspections to vehicles on an assembly line at the Nissan Canton Assembly Plant, in Canton, Mississippi, March 19, 2018. VOA

It says digitization, artificial intelligence, robotics and automatization require new monitoring methods to protect workers.

Manal Azzi, an ILO Technical Specialist on Occupational Safety and Health, says that on the one hand, new technology is freeing workers from many dirty, dangerous jobs. On the other, she says, the jobs can raise ethical concerns.

She told VOA surveillance of workers has become more intrusive, leading them to work longer hours, a situation that may not be ethical.

“Also, different monitoring systems that workers wear. Before, you would punch in, punch out. Now, you could wear bands on your wrist that show how many hours you are actually working in a production line. And, there is even discussion of introducing implants, where workers can be continuously surveyed on their production processes,” she said.

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ILO estimates find 2.78 million workers die from occupational accidents and work-related diseases each year. Wikimedia

Azzi said a host of mental problems could be introduced by new work environments. The report also focuses on changes in demographics. It says employers have to adapt to the physical needs of older workers, who may need training to safely operate equipment.

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Another area of concern is climate change. The ILO is positive about the green jobs being introduced. But it says care must be taken to protect people from warmer temperatures that increase risks, including air pollution, heat stress, and newly emerging diseases.

In the past, creating a safer working environment focused on the prevention of risks. Authors of the report say the ILO today needs to anticipate the risks. They say new skills and information about safety and health in the workplace have to be learned at an earlier age. Before young people apply for a job, they say, they should know their rights. The power of knowledge, they say, will help protect employees in the workplace. (VOA)