Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE
Picture: 123RF/LIGHTWISE

The International Organisation of Employers (IOE), whose members represent 50-million companies globally, says it is committed to saving lives, protecting the global economy and ensuring that businesses survive the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

It said on Monday that in working together with other partners, they could reverse socioeconomic damage caused by the coronavirus, which has disrupted global trade and supply chains and put financial markets into a tailspin.

The respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus has affected over 1.2-million people across the world and resulted in nearly 70,000 deaths.

The IOE has called for mobilisation of resources for a global Covid-19 fund. It said it supports calls by UN secretary-general António Guterres for a global stimulus package that supports businesses, workers and households.

On March 25, Guterres launched a $2bn (about R38bn) global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight Covid-19 in the world's poorest countries.

“These are places where people who have been forced to flee their homes because of bombs, violence or floods are living under plastic sheets in fields or crammed into refugee camps or informal settlements. They do not have homes in which to socially distance or self-isolate,” Guterres said last month.

IOE president Erol Kiresepi said the Covid-19 crisis “requires a historic response and a global one, particularly to help emerging economies prepare, mitigate and recover from a situation like no other”.

“Both the virus and the drastic economic consequences are threatening the lives of billions of people.”

Kiresepi said the UN’s efforts towards achieving the sustainable development goals “could be wiped out within weeks” by the virus, and stressed the need to urgently mobilise funds for the UN-lead Covid-19 response fund.

“I call on governments, intergovernmental or non-governmental organisations, and private sources including companies, foundations and individuals, to contribute,” said Kiresepi.

The fund would be used to assist small and medium enterprises and their workers as well as self-employed and nonpermanent, casual and informal workers in order “to prevent a humanitarian crisis”.

IOE vice-president to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Mthunzi Mdwaba said the ILO must lead the response to the employment and social crisis.

“The ILO has a century of experience promoting employment, social protection and social justice as well as an extended and well-working field-structure. It must now deliver in addressing the employment and social impact of the pandemic,” said Mdwaba.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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