The two-day Labour 20 (L20) inception meeting held at Amritsar in Punjab on March 19-20, 2023. The opening remark was by L20 Chairman Hiranmay Pandya. The L20 inception meet adopted two Joint Statements as the final outcome of the two-day deliberations, one calling for resolving the question of portability of social security among G20 nations, as a first step towards universalisation of social security, and another for plugging the gender gap in the global work force.
Trade union leaders, labour studies experts and delegates from 20 nations at the Labour20 inception meeting under India’s G20 presidency had deliberated the Universalisation of Social Security on the first day, and the last day of the event witnessed productive discussion on Women and Future of Work, in dedicated sessions to thrash out issues and concerns.
On March 19, Union Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav addressed the delegates from a virtual platform, when he said the world had resolved to recover together post-pandemic, and to make the recovery a human centric process, for which there was a need to collectively ensure that workers were equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the dynamic environment.
Yadav agreed that universal social security and its portability across the world is an important issue that G20 and L20 must focus on. He said the informal sector must be brought under the ambit of social security. “There has to be sustainable mix of social insurance and social assistance schemes for social security,” he added.
Keeping in line with vision of ‘Nari shakti’ or ‘Women Power’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said that women’s participation in labour force has to be enhanced which would in turn lead to creation of equitable, inclusive and developed society.
The L20 Inception Meet calls for G20 nations to speed up their efforts in meeting the commitment to reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25 percent by 2025, and to achieve larger women participation in the workforce globally by upskilling them for the future of work and the challenges posed by the post-pandemic situation.
On Women Workforce, L20 joint statement reads, “The L20 Inception Meet calls for G20 nations to speed up their efforts in meeting the commitment to reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25 per cent by 2025, and to achieve larger women participation in the workforce globally by upskilling them for the future of work and the challenges posed by the post-pandemic situation. The L20 Inception Meeting debated the theme of Women and the Future of Work in a dedicated session on the second day of the 2-day event and impressed upon the G20 nations that women would continue to play a key role in the economic growth of nations around the world, including the G20 nations, and the existing huge gender equality gap in the workforce could have an adverse impact on their growth targets.
Sustained efforts would be required on the part of Governments and Employers to achieve gender equality in the world of opportunities and to integrate the better half of the world’s population into the productive workforce. Policies to make workplaces safe from discrimination and gender-based violence are fundamental to achieving an inclusive labour market.”
On social security, the joint statement of L20 Inception meeting says, “Universalisation of social security benefiting up to the last worker in the member countries is an important step to be taken in the labour sector. The fruits of development have to be shared by all. It is of grave concern that the fast-changing nature of the world of work, as pointed out by the participants, pushes more workers to vulnerability and social protection has become an increasing need in the world of work.”
The L20 Inception meeting noted with concern that at least 4 billion people around the world are yet to be covered by any form of social security, and therefore vulnerable to economic, social, and environmental shocks.
The state of social security in the G20 economies which are home to 63 per cent of the global population, has gaps in social security financing in these countries viz., between universal coverage and actual coverage, and between countries of the Global North and those of the Global South. To bridge these disparities, it is critical to ensure the financial sustainability of social security through alternative mechanisms.
G20 countries can share their experiences and guide the grouping in creating sustainable financing for social security, utilising lessons they have learnt from their own social protection schemes. ILO Convention 102 on Social Security, especially its insurance model, is a good guiding principle for the G20 member nations to go about ensuring social security.
Notably, Labour20 is one of the 10 Engagement Groups of the G20, which is led by the non-government efforts. L20 discuss the concerns and issues of labour and employment, apart from deliberating on the latest trends in labour globally.