“Concerns have been growing over rising in- equality in earnings and widening gaps in labour market opportunities. This is mirrored by sluggish productivity growth on the one hand, and a declining labour income share on the other. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these inequalities and exposed existing vulnerabilities in economies, labour markets and societies. Measures taken to contain the spread of the virus resulted in the loss of earnings for millions of enterprises and hundreds of millions of workers. Business continuity was jeopardized. A clear distinction emerged between those who were able to adapt their working patterns and shift to telework, and those whose work was suspended or who lost their employment altogether: the former often better remunerated, the latter frequently among the low-paid. The ILO estimates furthermore that in 2022, global unemployment will stand at a staggering 207 million people, compared to 186 million in 2019 (ILO 2022).
Collective bargaining has played a role in miti gating the impact of the COVID19 crisis on employment and earnings, helping to cushion some of the effects on inequality while reinfor cing the resilience of enterprises and labour markets. The tailoring of public health meas ures and strengthening of occupational safety and health (OSH) at the workplace, together with the paid sick leave and healthcare bene fits provided for in many collective agree ments, have protected many workers and supported the continuity of economic activity. Agreements negotiated in response to the COVID19 crisisinduced experimentation with telework and hybrid work are transforming these practices and paving the way for a future with decent digital work”