“New and better jobs – pathway to mutual prosperity”
The Honorable Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization,
Distinguished Heads of States, representatives of labor and management,
I find it very meaningful to take part in the ILO Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work that aims to build a better future of work.
First of all, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to brothers and sisters around the world whose lives have been claimed by COVID-19, as well as their bereaved families. I would also like to deliver words of comfort to those who are battling against the disease and reeling from the loss of their jobs.
Moreover, I would like to convey my respect to medical professionals and quarantine staff who have been putting their own lives at risk to safeguard the health of humanity. My gratitude also goes to governments, workers and employers, the ILO staff and others in international organizations for their efforts to protect jobs.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world like a massive earthquake, and just like a tsunami that comes in its aftermath, ‘employment shock’ has already hit upon us. Every single country on the planet is striving to control the disease and protect jobs at the same time, but it is difficult to predict when and how the job market will be stabilized as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe.
Even when an individual country is able to keep its economy afloat, job crisis will drag out if the global economic downturn continues while global trade remains stagnant.
Economic crisis precipitated by COVID-19 cannot be addressed by an individual country or economic entity alone. The ILO predicted 25 million additional job losses around the world and it is clear that the vulnerable groups will be disproportionately affected.
This is why, more than ever before, social dialogue and international cooperation is essential and the role of international organizations including the ILO is vital.
The ILO has been playing a leading role in protecting fundamental labor rights and creating quality jobs. From the Declaration of Philadelphia 1944 which proclaimed that labor is not a commodity, all the way to the report published last year under the title “Work for a Brighter Future”, the ILO has always served the role of a pioneer.
Today’s Global Summit is also very timely. I hope that we can find solutions to job crisis together by engaging in global discussions and cooperation.
Director-General, Distinguished Heads of States, representatives of labor and management,
Even though Korea was one of the first countries hit by COVID-19 and subsequent employment shock, we decided to embark on the path of mutual prosperity to overcome the crisis.
Korean workers, employers and the government came together and reached an agreement on ‘The Tripartite Declaration on Overcoming COVID-19’. The parties agreed to make joint efforts to retain employees instead of laying them off by making full use of working hour reduction and leave of absence schemes.
Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, Korea had been seeking to create more quality jobs in local communities through tripartite cooperation between labor, management and government. This job creation model is spreading across many cities all over the country. Korea has been imparting the time-honored spirit of helping each other out into a culture whereby workers and employers readily accommodate each other’s position and engage in burden sharing. This has been a source of strength for us as we strive to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. It is also bringing about changes not only to the job market but also to labor relations.
Korea is also focusing on ‘measures to overcome the crisis in a way that bridges disparities’. During each economic crisis that Korea suffered in the past, we witnessed the exacerbation of inequality. We are determined to further strengthen the employment safety net in order to prevent history from repeating itself.
To this end, Korea took its first step by expanding the coverage of employment insurance and introducing the Korean-style unemployment allowance. We are also planning to establish a universal employment safety net. I strongly believe that overcoming the crisis while reducing inequality is a common goal shared by all of us gathered here today.
As the transition to a digital economy gathers pace in the post COVID-19 era, significant changes are expected to take place in the job market. In order to ably respond to such changes, Korea is pursuing a ‘Korean New Deal’ based on the employment safety net. Keeping pace with the changing times, we will create jobs that better meet future needs and embrace new values such as ‘digital’ and ‘green’.
Over long periods, Korea has been steadily advancing towards a ‘society that respects labor’, based on the recognition that ‘labor is the very foundation of society’. We continue to make efforts to reduce working hours and raise the minimum wage.
Korea is determined to protect existing jobs and create new ones by embarking on the path to mutual prosperity. We will join international efforts to improve the quality of life for workers, including through the ratification of the key ILO conventions.
Director-General, Distinguished Heads of States, and representatives of workers and employers,
When Dodo birds went extinct in Mauritius, the trees that once provided feed for the birds who germinated their seeds in return were no longer able to grow.
History teaches us that mutual growth comes first above all. We depend on our neighbors to sustain our own lives. Humanity has evolved in the direction of more cooperation and fulfilled each other’s needs through division of labor.
The importance of solidarity and cooperation resonates more powerfully than ever before as we continue our fight against COVID-19.
The crisis can be surmounted only when the international community chooses the path to mutual prosperity over the pursuit of individual interests.
The international community must work together to overcome the crisis in a way that reduces inequality and bridges disparities. The ILO stands at the very heart of such endeavors. Korea will work and act together to this end.