The specter of demonstrations in Europe are not only likely to become a regular news item, but other economies have high odds of similar social stresses, a UN agency forecasts. The International Labour Organisation has pushed back its estimate of when global employment will return to pre-crisis levels back to 2015. Given the widespread signs of discontent, pressures can only intensify. From the Guardian:
The United Nations work agency today warned of a long “labour market recession” and noted that social unrest related to the crisis had already been reported in at least 25 countries, including some recovering emerging economies.
Crisis-hit Spain faced its first general strike in eight years this week as unions protested against the government’s austerity measures and labour reforms. The strike on Wednesday coincided with protests in Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania, as well as demonstrations in Brussels by tens of thousands of workers from across Europe as part of a European day of action against public spending cuts.
“Fairness must be the compass guiding us out of the crisis,” said ILO director general Juan Somavia. “People can understand and accept difficult choices, if they perceive that all share in the burden of pain. Governments should not have to choose between the demands of financial markets and the needs of their citizens. Financial and social stability must come together. Otherwise, not only the global economy but also social cohesion will be at risk.”
Raymond Torres, lead author of the ILO’s annual World of Work report, published today, warned governments against withdrawing fiscal stimulus measures while the economic recovery was still weak.
Torres said there were two main reasons for the bleaker outlook facing many countries: “The first is that fiscal stimulus measures that were critical in averting a deeper crisis and helped jump-start the economy are now being withdrawn in countries where recovery, if any, is still too weak,” he said. “The second, and more fundamental factor is that the root causes of the crisis have not been properly tackled.”