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UN chief calls for protection of jobs amid COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-06-19 14:33

Hundreds of people line up outside a Kentucky Career Center hoping to find assistance with their unemployment claim in Frankfort, Kentucky, US on June 18, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for the protection of jobs amid COVID-19.

The pandemic has turned the world of work upside down. Every worker, every business and every corner of the globe has been affected. Hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost, said Guterres in a video message for the launch of a policy brief on COVID-19 and employment.

This crisis in the world of work is adding fuel to an already burning fire of discontent and anxiety. Massive unemployment and loss of income from COVID-19 are further eroding social cohesion and destabilizing countries and regions socially, politically and economically, he noted.

Guterres asked for action on three fronts -- immediate support for at-risk workers, enterprises, jobs and incomes; greater focus on both health and economic activities after lockdowns ease, with safe workplaces and rights for women and populations at risk; efforts toward a human-centered, green and sustainable, as well as inclusive recovery that harnesses the potential of new technologies to create decent jobs for all.

"There is a lot of talk about the need for a 'new normal' after this crisis. But let's not forget that the pre-COVID-19 world was far from normal," he said. "Rising inequalities, systemic gender discrimination, lack of opportunities for young people, stagnant wages, runaway climate change -- none of these things were normal."

The pandemic exposed tremendous shortcomings, fragilities and fault lines. The world of work cannot and should not look the same after this crisis. It is time for a coordinated global, regional and national effort to create decent work for all as the foundation of a green, inclusive and resilient recovery, Guterres said, adding, "for example, a shift of taxation from payroll to carbon could help to go a long way in this direction."

With smart and timely action at all levels, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the guide, the world can emerge from this crisis stronger, with better jobs and a brighter, more equitable and greener future for all, he said.

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