ILO’S WARNING ON VULNERABLE JOBS
Recent statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO), which reveal that over 1.5 billion people across the world are in vulnerable employment, paint a grim but true picture of the situation in many parts of the world, especially the developing countries.
According to the world labour body, the figure represents over half of the working population in the world. Director-General of ILO, Mr. Juan Somavia, who spoke on the occasion of this year's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, noted that behind the grim statistics are real people seeking better jobs. They also include persons having risky and low paying jobs and, therefore, are searching for new employment that will improve their living standards and that of their families.
The way to stable society, ILO says, must include decent and full employment opportunities, low inflation, sound fiscal policies as well as empowering people and promoting sustainable economic growth.
We cannot agree less with the concern expressed by ILO and some of the measures it suggested for protecting people in vulnerable jobs. Undoubtedly, the world is faced with the inability of governments to create an equitable society.
This has become so evident in capitalist nations, including Nigeria, where exploitation and alienation have created social discontent among those with jobs as well as the jobless. In Nigeria today and elsewhere around the world, casualisation remains a means of exploitation. It denigrates the dignity of labour and subjects workers to unfair labour practices.
The worries expressed by ILO call for fundamental change in the quality of jobs. In most countries where the ILO figures were obtained, governments seem not to have a clear-cut programme of action to address the critical issues militating against human dignity at work. Until governments begin to see governance as a human enterprise that should take care of the people, especially those on the borderline of poverty, employers will not get the best from their workers. Workers need basic social protection, so, employers ought to eliminate conditions that make them vulnerable in their jobs. This is even more critical in the informal sector of the economy.
Creation of more employment opportunities and massive infrastructure development are necessary to check job vulnerability. In Nigeria, for instance, though job and wealth creation, and infrastructure development are part of the agenda of the present administration, not much has been done to make them a reality. Comprehensive and realistic economic policies that will focus on human development have, therefore, become imperative.
The alarm raised by ILO is an indictment that should ginger governments and organisations across the world to empower and motivate the workforce through job stability and satisfaction. ILO statistics provide a crucial measure of labour practices across the world. They should be heeded.
If the needed improvement must take place, however, there should be proper management of policies that are designed to tackle poverty, job creation and labour practices. Hitherto, some of the poverty alleviation measures have ignored these imperatives and have become mired in corruption.
We suggest scientific data collection and analysis of human capital facts regarding worker performance in organisations where vulnerability of jobs exists. There should be interventionist policies to improve the situation, promote job security and satisfaction, and help organisations to get the most value from the workforce.
Overall, we urge governments to take the ILO observation seriously. The world labour body should drive this consciousness with emphasis on good leadership as a primary solution to bridging the gap between employers, employees and both sustainable and rewarding employment in the society.