OP-ED: How Covid-19 could condition the future of employment

28 Jul 2020 10:03 AM
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We cannot simply go back to the same careers that people have lost

It is not media that the coronavirus is having a good devastating effect on livelihoods. “1.6 billion workers in the informal economy -- that is almost 50 percent of the global workforce -- stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed,” in line with the International Labour Organization. Bangladesh is obviously not really exempt from the mass lack of livelihood through the epidemic.

Fear of further task losses, and the suffering of the an incredible number of newly unemployed, have contributed to governments rushing to reopen their cities and countries regardless of the potentially devastating risk to health and life.

It is absolutely essential that governments provide support to those whose livelihoods have been threatened or destroyed. It is also vital that governments ensure employment opportunities. What is not essential is that people simply go back to the same jobs that we have lost. 

Some elements of the economy would be better off being shed, whatever the short-term pain that could cause. Specifically, two types of market, and hence employment, is highly recommended ripe for abandonment. 

The first category is industries that are extremely destructive towards dynamics or the environment, or that contribute drastically to greenhouse gas emissions. Think cruise lines. Think private airlines. Think destructive, extractive industries and highly-polluting factories.

 The next category is sectors that, while providing employment, do not pay a full time income wage, usually do not offer respectable working circumstances, and do contribute considerably to income inequality. Many of those sectors, meanwhile, produce goods that we do not need, and in simple fact, would be better off without: things such as fast food, plastic material toys, and ludicrously low cost and low quality clothing.

But persons need jobs. What is to be done about that?

Governments around the world -- Bangladesh is zero exception -- heavily subsidize polluting industries which often provide menial, miserable careers. Governments offer tax holiday seasons to big companies. They offer heavily subsidized land, electricity, and water. 

They fail to charge for environmental destruction or to insist on pollution reduction measures. They let companies to underpay employees and undercut work by employees to arrange for higher wages or better operating conditions. They do all of this largely, they say, with regard to creating jobs.

If it's so important for governments to invest in job creation, you will want to bypass the polluting corporations and instead spend money on task creation at the local level, jobs that might be better for the surroundings -- even helping restore the surroundings, rather than further polluting it -- and that could pay out a decent wage while also providing other benefits to workers?

How could governments afford to take action? Well, they are already subsidizing the fossil fuel market to the tune of $5.2 trillion a year. Surely that money will be better put in in subsidizing people or smaller businesses that are involved in healthy practices. 

Rather than subsidize fossil fuel, which threatens our very upcoming on this world, governments could subsidize green jobs that are as well good for workers, things such as growing chemical-free vegatables and fruits, repairing footpaths, construction cycling infrastructure, and upgrading and maintaining parks and additional public spaces. 

Green jobs could include supporting extra teachers and tutors in order to reduce the burden in families, while incorporating love of the environment and nature into the curriculum. Green jobs could include hiring considerably more community health workers who would be a great resource as we continue steadily to address the coronavirus and prepare for possible future pandemics.

The vast sums of people who have already misplaced their jobs, or are experiencing an enormous dip in wages, need government support. The 1.6 billion staff whose livelihoods are threatened need government support. 

The billionaires and multi-millionaires who've contributed to global inequality, and continue to benefit from it, don't need government support. It is time to prevent subsidizing the wealthiest, the polluters, and the ones with the worst labour circumstances. It really is time instead to aid local persons engaged in important do the job that can help to rebuild our communities, our society, and our country in a way that would come to be infinitely much better than the wreckage we've left behind.