Date: Sun, 19 Apr 98 10:38:37 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Winkel)
Subject: ILO Says Social Suffering To Grow In Asia
/** labr.global: 261.0 **/
** Topic: ILO Says Social Suffering To Grow In Asia **
** Written 7:13 PM Apr 18, 1998 by email@example.com in cdp:labr.global **
/* ---------- "LABOUR-ASIA: ILO Forecasts Social S" ---------- */
Copyright 1998 InterPress Service, all rights reserved.
Worldwide distribution via the APC networks.
ILO Forecasts Social Suffering from Economic Crisis
By Gustavo Capdevila, IPS
15 April 1998
GENEVA, Apr 15 (IPS) - Asia's poorer sectors will face worse
conditions in 1998 mainly due to inadequate political intervention
to confront the region's financial crisis to date, forecast the
International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The most seriously hit aspects of the Asian panorama are
investment and the tendency to reduce poverty, which had seen
spectacular advances in the last 20 years.
And worsening income distribution could create fertile ground
for the germination of serious social disturbances, warned the
In a description of the crisis which broke out in 1997, the ILO
said Southeast and eastern Asia have experienced an economic shake-
up of unprecedented severity following decades of uninterrupted
high growth levels.
The magnitude of the impact can be seen in the fact the most
hard hit nations, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea, saw the the
growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) change abruptly from seven
percent per year to zero or even negative values.
Although less affected, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines
will also see significant deceleration of growth in 1998.
The ILO report predicted millions of workers would be left
jobless as a result of cutbacks in staff, above all in
construction, the financial services and industry.
This diagnosis added that underemployment will spread and the
real income of workers will fall considerably, as a result of the
reduction of demand for labour and increased inflation due to the
The social situation will be further complicated by "the
absence of effective social security networks," said the ILO in a
report prepared for the meeting of governments, unions and
employers to be held in Bangkok from April 22 to 24.
The vast majority of the laid off workers will in all
probability recieve no help, having to face adversity with scarce
resources, warned the document.
The ILO summed up the dangers thus: "The joint effects of the
unforseen social difficulties, on the one hand, and the lack of
means of collective aid, on the other, provide fertile ground
where serious social disturbances could germinate."
In a study of the three worst hit countries, the report
mentioned that unemployment in Indonesia will stand at between
eight and 10 percent (7.9 to 9.2 million workers).
This unemployment in Indonesia, which stood at five percent in
1996, will depend on the increase in GDP, expected to fluctuate at
between zero and minus five percent.
The amount of Indonesians living in poverty is calculated to be
22 million people, and this group will grow in considerable
proportions, said the report.
In South Korea, unemployment went from 2.3 percent in October
1997 to 4.7 percent in February of this year, and it is believed
it could increase to seven percent in May.
Up until just before the crisis, Thailand was undergoing full
employment, as was shown by the increasing presence of foreign
However, in late 1997 unemployment already affected 3.4 percent
of the workforce. Bangkok predicted that by the end of 1998, the
unemployed would number around two million, equivalent to 5.6
percent of the economically active population.
The ILO said women have been the particularly vulnerable
victims of the regional crisis, due to their unfavourable
situation in the work market and their concentration in the most
precarious forms of salaried work.
In the cases seen by the international agency indicate
discriminatory redundancy has become a common practice.
The 6.5 million immigrant workers in the region in mid-1997 are
up against similar difficulties. Many of the immigrants are
undocumented and run the risk of being arrested and repatriated
against their will.
As for the economic measures adopted to confront the crisis,
the study indicates the most controversial are those applied in
line with agreements made with the International Monetary Fund
One of the most common criticisms of these IMF approved
programmes is the extreme fiscal austerity they include.
Critics argue fiscal austerity is a strange solution to offer
given the serious deflationary impact caused by the massive
captial flight, said the ILO.
On the employment front, efforts to help the masses of
redundant workers only cover a reduced part of the real needs.
South Korea excepted, no measures have been applied to provide
unemployment benefit nor other social aid policies, said the
The ILO document encouraged the adoption of measures for urgent
economic recovery, but also proposed starting a process of
strengthening the social protection systems.
Thus, just as the Great Depression of the thirties led to a new
social contract in the industrialised countries, the current
crisis in Asia could offer the opportunity for a new development
model geared more toward the social aspects, it concluded.
[c] 1998, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
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