Speeches

ILO Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work - Statement by Seychelles President Mr Danny Faure, Wednesday 8th July 2020

08 July 2020 | Foreign Affairs

Excellencies,

Heads of State

Mr Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO

Representatives of Workers and Employers’ organizations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address this international tripartite platform of the International Labour Organization. On behalf of the people and the Government of Seychelles, I sincerely thank the ILO for the technical support to Seychelles since we established relations in 1977. I am honoured to address this Global Summit focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic that is impacting labour markets across the world.

Excellencies,

Workers and employers are deeply affected by this crisis, particularly as businesses are unable to fully operate and the demand for labour has decreased. It is evident that the crisis will have a lasting scar on the labour force. As tripartite constituents of the ILO, it is therefore our duty as leaders to introduce robust multi-sectoral policies so that the world of work strongly recovers from this unprecedented global crisis and to restore stability and dignity to our people. 

Seychelles has a small economy which is highly reliant on tourism as a source of livelihood for many businesses and workers. The impact of this crisis has increased our vulnerabilities as a small island developing state and we are already facing other global challenges such as the impacts of climate change.

With the closure of our international borders, the tourism industry, the biggest employer, has been severely impacted. While our national unemployment rate for first quarter of 2020 still stands below 5%, the youth unemployment rate has substantially increased to 20.4% making young people the most vulnerable in this crisis.

As we gather more data and obtain better understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on labour market and economic indicators, we must consider long term sustainable and inclusive approaches through coordinated Government interventions.

In Seychelles, there are regular consultations with employers and workers’ representatives and the business community, to listen to their challenges and concerns in order to reach decisions based upon consensus.  I have made it my duty to lead the consultations during these unprecedented times. Through this mechanism, the Government has introduced several measures with the ultimate aim of minimizing unemployment shocks, securing workers’ incomes and preparing the economy and the population for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery.

For instance, we have made amendments to our Employment Act to provide special leave for working parents, safeguard workers’ salary and to address redundancies and lay-offs caused by this crisis.

Employment programmes have been reviewed to extend skills development and work experience to more young people and other vulnerable groups of our society.

A national employee transition scheme has been introduced to actively engage workers who will be made redundant and those whose working hours have been reduced.

A new framework on migrant workers was also adopted to respond to the changing labour needs of businesses.

In addition, fiscal measures have been introduced to create access to soft loans at a preferential interest rate. Businesses have also benefitted from tax rebate and moratorium on repayment of bank loans to ensure business continuity.

Further measures will be introduced depending on the ongoing dynamics of the labour market and economy.

More than ever, we appreciate the critical importance of social dialogue when adopting strategies amidst this pandemic. This pandemic and these unimaginable circumstances provide us with an opportunity to seek for immediate plausible solutions together. For over a century, the ILO has promoted social justice and international labour standards and we recognize their relevance in times of crisis and prosperity. The guiding principles of the ILO will help to re-build our world of work.

Like in every crisis, we are also faced with opportunities. During the past few months, flexible working arrangements, work from home, re-training, re-inventing and occupational safety and health have become the new order of the day.

As we move towards a “better normal” we must continue to maintain our ambition of creating a world of work where everyone has equal opportunity to access jobs and progress. With our limited fiscal space, I would like to call on the ILO and the international community to expand support to labour administration institutions in small island states. We would greatly appreciate the ILO’s assistance in this respect.

The Covid-19 crisis reminds us of the importance of solidarity as a nation and together with other countries we are determined to bring about transformative changes as we confront these challenging times.

I thank you for your attention.

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