Job Value Is Underneath Pressure

    The Hawk
    April30/ 2023

    International Workers Day

    International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on 1 May. Labour Day celebrations are part of an important tradition that reflects the union movement’s commitment to social justice and workers’ rights. We march to celebrate the contributions that workers make to society and to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles that our diverse members face. We march in solidarity on a day filled with comradery, laughter and spirit.

    Beyond the gap in employment, job quality remains a key concern. Without access to social protection, many people simply cannot afford to be without a job. They often accept any kind of work, often at very low pay and with inconvenient or insufficient hours. The projected slowdown is therefore likely to force workers to accept jobs of worse quality than they might enjoy in better economic conditions. Furthermore, with prices rising faster than nominal wages, workers will experience rapidly declining disposable incomes even when they can keep their current jobs.

    Such decent work deficits vary by region in form and severity, yet they are widespread. In the Arab States, North Africa and South Asia, gender-related differences in labour market indicators, including labour force participation rates, are substantial. In Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa, elevated rates of informality inhibit access to social protection and fundamental rights at work. All regions are afflicted by one or another form of decent work deficit. The current deterioration in global economic conditions is likely to reverse past progress and worsen these deficits in several directions.

    Inflation has a strong impact on the distribution of real incomes. Many workers and enterprises are unable to increase their income in line with inflation and they hence suffer real income losses. However, some workers and enterprises – for example, those operating in the energy sector – experience income gains higher than the inflation rate, which thus

    raise their real income. Falling real incomes are particularly devastating for poorer households, which risk slipping into poverty and food insecurity. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, respectively, 60.8 per cent and 34.7 per cent of the employed population in 2021 were considered to be working poor at the US$3.10 per day (PPP per capita) level.

    Global supply chain linkages are propagating to low- and middle-income countries the slowdown in demand in high-income countries. An estimated average of 11.3 per cent of jobs in the sample of 24 middle-income countries with available data – excluding those in agriculture and nonmarket services – are dependent on GSC linkages to high-income countries (see Appendix D). In some smaller economies, the proportion well exceeds 20 per cent. In middle-income countries, sectors with higher GSC integration tend to have a larger share of wage and salaried employment, a lower incidence of informality and a lower proportion of low-paid employees – and hence in principle a higher quality of employment. Since a slump in demand in high-income countries is likely to shift employment growth in middle-income countries to activities not linked to GSCs, the average quality of employment may then decline.

    —Prof. Sunil Goyal / The Hawk

    Author is an Eminent Social Scientist, Columnist, and presently posted as Dean and Chairman – Board of Studies at Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University of Social Sciences, Dr. Ambedkar Nagar (MHOW), Madhya Pradesh