The Covid-19 pandemic has had a ‘cataclysmic’ effect on global employment. This is according to the director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder, who was speaking at the opening of the organisation’s two-week ministerial conference.

Ryder also said that the effect of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns on employment was worse than the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Said Ryder: ‘Taken as a whole this represents a world of work crisis four times as severe as the one triggered by the financial crisis of 2008-2009.’

He said that over 200 million people were unemployed globally and that job losses due to the pandemic and lockdowns would only be erased by 2023.

Ryder also warned about an uneven global recovery, partly due to inequities in the distribution of vaccines.

South Africa has not been immune, with unemployment now at record highs. Any South African economic recovery will also be hampered by a dismal vaccine rollout. According to latest figures, only 1.4 million of South Africa’s nearly 60 million people have been fully or partially vaccinated.