The devastating losses in working hours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought a “massive” drop in labour income for workers around the world, says the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its latest assessment of the effects of the pandemic on the world of work.
Global labour income is estimated to have declined by 10.7 per cent, or US$ 3.5 trillion, in the first three quarters of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. This figure excludes income support provided through government measures.
The biggest drop was in lower-middle income countries, where the labour income losses reached 15.1 per cent, with the Americas the hardest hit region at 12.1 per cent.
The ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. Sixth edition , says that the global working hour losses in the first nine months of 2020 have been “considerably larger” than estimated in the previous edition of the Monitor (issued on 30 June).
For example, the revised estimate of global working time lost in the second quarter (Q2) of this year (when compared to Q4 2019) is for 17.3 per cent, equivalent to 495 million full time equivalent (FTE) jobs (based on a 48-hour working week), whereas the earlier estimate was for 14 per cent, or 400 million FTE jobs. In Q3 of 2020, global working hour losses of 12.1 per cent (345 million FTE jobs) are expected.
The outlook for Q4 has worsened significantly since the last ILO Monitor was issued. Under the ILO’s baseline scenario, global working-hour losses are now projected to amount to 8.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 (compared to Q4 2019), which corresponds to 245 million FTE jobs. This is an increase from the ILO’s previous estimate of 4.9 per cent or 140 million FTE jobs.
One reason for the estimated increases in working-hour losses is that workers in developing and emerging economies, especially those in informal employment, have been much more affected than by past crises, the Monitor says.
It also notes that the drop in employment is more attributable to inactivity than to unemployment, with important policy implications.
While many stringent workplace closures have been relaxed, there are significant variations between regions. 94 per cent of workers are still in countries with some sort of workplace restrictions, and 32 per cent are in countries with closures for all but essential workplaces.
The “fiscal stimulus gap”
The 6th edition of the Monitor also looks at the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus in alleviating labour market impacts.
In countries where sufficient data is available for Q2 2020, a clear correlation exists, showing that the larger the fiscal stimulus (as a percentage of GDP), the lower the working-hour losses. In that period, globally an additional fiscal stimulus of 1 per cent of annual GDP would have reduced working hour losses by a further 0.8 per cent.
However, while fiscal stimulus packages have played a significant role in supporting economic activity and reducing the fall in working hours, they have been concentrated in high-income countries, as emerging and developing economies have limited capacity to finance such measures.
In order for developing countries to reach the same ratio of stimulus to working hours lost as in high-income countries, they would need to inject a further US$982 billion (US$45 billion in low-income countries and US$937 billion in lower-middle income countries). The stimulus gap for low income countries amounts to less than 1 per cent of the total value of the fiscal stimulus packages announced by high-income countries.
This huge “fiscal stimulus gap” is even more worrying in the light of the social protection deficits in many developing countries. Moreover, some of these countries have also had to redirect public spending from other objectives in order to mitigate the labour market impact of the crisis.
“Just as we need to redouble our efforts to beat the virus, so we need to act urgently and at scale to overcome its economic, social and employment impacts. That includes sustaining support for jobs, businesses and incomes,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
“As the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York, there is pressing need for the international community to set out a global strategy for recovery through dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. No group, country or region can beat this crisis alone,” he concluded.
The time is ripe for India and China to compromise and build an alliance
If China, India, and Russia forge an alliance of willing partners, a long-lasting growth period will emerge. The opposite scenario is only beneficial to colonizing forces who constantly seek new ways to destabilize the continent of Asia, stresses ‘The Times of India’.
With Sweden and Finland ever so keen to join the NATO alliance, the number of neutral states is decreasing. This will put additional pressure on India, as Washington is bent on getting Pakistan on its side, as well. After Imran Khan’s departure, the hurdle is removed for a better relationship between US and Pakistan. Washington did not listen to India’s objection to the sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan and will continue with its sale ranging in millions of dollars.
India is busy aligning itself with as many countries as possible, including USA. But it is entirely in India’s and China’s interest to promote peace and stability in the region and explore the new possibility to increase mutual trade and ties when Europe seems to enter an era of constant destabilization.
With Pakistan flirting with USA, and its economy in dire straits, it is imperative for the leaders of India and China to create a new successful narrative of peaceful co-existence.
BBC’s recent focus on riots in Gujarat is another example of sinister attempts to plant discord between Hindu and Muslim communities of India. Freedom of media is utterly important in democracy, but if BBC was so keen on revealing the atrocities suffered by Indians, it could start by critizing the crucial role of Winston Churchill in causing famine in Bengal, India, when millions died. Or they could focus on the period of colonial subjugation that resulted in our present-day poverty and lack of self-reliance.
Similarly, regular attempts are made to conjure and construct military exercises and drills within India to irritate China. Provocations from both sides should stop, both countries are large enough and have enough territory in their possession. India and China should really start a multi-faceted dialogue, increase trade and co-operation to spread the benefit of technological prowess their young population is demonstrating.
The West will try to destabilize both India and China since they are in the middle of an insolvable war. It is incumbent on both Indian and Chinese leaders not to succumb to such flirtations. Let the Western countries realize that their constant provocation and NATO expansion was seen as a threat by Russia. No matter how hard they will try, this war is unwinnable for both sides.
Therefore, India and China should sit down and resolve their differences, and China being a stronger power, should stop encircling India. It sends an absolutely wrong signal to the Indian leaders. India, on the other hand, should get conscious of the incessant reversals of American foreign policy towards Pakistan, almost never taking into account the security needs of India.
If India, China and Russia stand together in their co-operation, the Europeans might gather courage to refuse overtures of false friendship from USA. America has been pressurizing Europe into getting more involved in a war which a growing number of people find unconvincing and not in their interest, writes ‘The Times if India’ observer Mrutyuanjai Mishra.
India’s relationship with Russia is non-negotiable. Modi government is also sequestering the troubled relationship with China from external third-party interference, taking care, presumably, to leave avenues open for normalising the ties through bilateral channels in a foreseeable future, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer. He notes:
“The sombre mood at the Council for Foreign Affairs in New York during External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s talk (photo) was only to be expected against the backdrop of the India-Canada diplomatic spat over the killing of a Sikh secessionist in Vancouver in June, which, reportedly, was “coordinated” on the Canadian side with Washington based on intelligence inputs from the Five Eyes.
However, the event’s main thrust took an overtly geopolitical overtone with the CFR hosts calling out the Indian minister to weigh in on India’s growing assertiveness on the global stage and its perspectives on the international situation involving Russia and China, and the “limits” to the US-Indian relationship.
It is no secret that the Canadian-Indian spat into which Washington has inserted itself has a deeper geopolitical agenda. The Financial Times, the western daily perceived as closest to the Biden administration, in fact, carried a report last week entitled The west’s Modi problem with a blurb that neatly caught its main theme — “The US and its allies are cultivating India as an economic and diplomatic partner. But its prime minister’s authoritarian streak is becoming harder to ignore.”
The article held out a warning: “India is becoming one of America’s most important foreign partners as a bulwark against China. The US has invested heavily in bolstering relations with New Delhi as part of its broader strategy of enhancing relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. The push has accelerated this year…
Evidently, Jaishankar, whose experience and expertise in navigating the US-Indian relationship through choppy waters as well as balmy autumn alike is second to none in the Indian establishment, has been tasked by Modi to contain the fallout of the spat with Canada on India’s relations with the US.
The West’s discontent about “Modi’s India” is at its core about the country’s independent foreign policies and resistance to becoming an ally in a traditional sense and accordingly tailor its performance on the global stage in accordance with the “rules based order” buttressing the US hegemony in world politics.
The US would have, in normal course, worked for a tradeoff with India but the times have changed and it is itself locked in an all-or-nothing contestation for global supremacy with China (and increasingly in the shadow of a Sino-Russian axis) which is of course a high stakes game where Washington would assign a role for India and have expectations out of Modi’s leadership.
Conceivably, Jaishankar’s mission is like an iceberg with only a tip that is visible — at least, as of now. Nonetheless, his statements at the CFR in New York provides some reasonable clues. Basically, Jaishankar assembled his thoughts in three interlinked clusters — the emerging world order and US-Indian relations; Russia’s place in the scheme of things; and, the challenge of China’s rise. It presents a rare peep into the architecture of India’s current world view and can be summarised as follows:
First. The world order is changing and the US is also “fundamentally readjusting to the world.” This is partly to be seen as the “long-term consequences” of the defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it principally stems out of the reality that the US’ dominance in the world and its relative power vis-s-vis other powers, has changed through the last decade. Put differently, the US is looking at a world where it is no longer possible for it to work solely with its allies.
Succinctly put, the US is already getting into a world order that has “much more fluid, much more dispersed centres of power” — very often much more regional, sometimes with different issues and different theatres producing their own combinations. That would mean that it is no longer realistic to seek clear-cut, black-and-white, solutions to problems.
Second. The US shouldn’t lost sight of the “enormous possibility” to work with India to enhance each other’s interests where the focus should be on technology, as the balance of power in the world is always a balance of technology. The US needs partners who can secure its interests more effectively and there are only a finite number of partners out there.
Fact is, today Global South is very distrustful of the Global North and it is useful for the US to have friends who think and speak well of America. And India is one of the few countries that have the ability to bridge the polarisation in world politics — East-West, North-South.
Third. Jaishankar subtly fortified the above persuasive argument with an unspoken caveat that the Biden Administration should not make unrealistic demands on India’s independent policies or challenge its core interests lest it is counterproductive.
The point was driven home by calling attention to a stunning geopolitical reality that Russia is turning its back on its three-centuries old search of an European identity and is making strenuous efforts to build new relationships in the Asian continent. Russia is a part of Asia but its pivot is about carving out a strong role as an Asian power. Indeed, this is consequential.
As for India, its relations with Russia have remained “extremely steady since the 1950s.” Notwithstanding the vicissitudes in world politics or current history, both sides took care to keep the relationship “very very steady.” And that is because Delhi and Moscow share an understanding that there is a “structural basis” to the two countries working together, and, therefore, both take “great care to maintain the relationship and ensure that it is working.”
Given the centrality of the Russian-Indian strategic partnership, it is well nigh impossible to isolate India. Jaishankar may have buttressed his point further by giving a lengthy account of India’s standoff with China on the border (in factual terms from an Indian perspective) but, significantly enough, without attributing motives to the Chinese behaviour or even rushing into characterisations of it in picturesque terms of self-aggrandisement.
The intriguing part came when Jaishankar was open-minded enough to rationalise the Chinese Navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean and point-blank refused to mix up India’s QUAD membership with it.
Jaishankar rejected the hackneyed notions propagated by American analysts of a Chinese “string of pearls” around India and instead noted calmly that the steady increase in the Chinese naval presence in the past 20-25 yrs is a reflection of the sharp increase in the size of the Chinese Navy.
India does not see QUAD as necessarily geared for a role to counter China, as it will be “a bit old-fashioned to point towards another country.”
Indeed, the shift in the tone of the Indian narrative following the brief exchanges between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the recent BRICS Summit has continued.
Jaishankar’s statements made it abundantly clear that India’s relationship with Russia is non-negotiable, whilst the surprising part is that Modi government is also sequestering the troubled relationship with China from external third-party interference, taking care, presumably, to leave avenues open for normalising the ties through bilateral channels in a foreseeable future.
The bottom line is, if the US-Canadian-Five Eyes agenda was to browbeat India’s strategic autonomy, Jaishankar rejected it. Curiously, at one point, he commented sarcastically that India is neither a member of the Five Eyes nor is answerable to the FBI,” M.K. Bhadrakumar stresses.
What Happens to Employee Insurance Benefits When Bankruptcy Occurs?
Employee health insurance is one of the most crucial aspects of employee benefits packages provided by companies across the globe. It not only plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent but also ensures the well-being and financial security of employees and their families. However, in the ever-changing landscape of the business world, companies may encounter financial challenges, including bankruptcy. This article delves into the significance of employee health insurance and explores what happens to it when bankruptcy occurs.
The Importance of Employee Health Insurance
Employee health insurance, also called group health insurance policy is a valuable benefit that offers a multitude of advantages for both employees and employers. Here’s an in-depth look at why it holds such immense importance:
Attracting and Retaining Talent: In a job market, offering comprehensive health insurance is a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining top talent. Prospective employees often consider health benefits as a significant factor when evaluating job offers. By providing quality healthcare coverage, companies can stand out and build a loyal workforce.
Employee Well-Being: Employee health insurance is fundamentally about safeguarding the well-being of a company’s most valuable asset—its workforce. Access to healthcare ensures that employees can seek medical attention when needed, leading to early diagnosis and treatment of health issues. This not only promotes individual health but also enhances overall productivity.
Financial Security: Medical expenses can be a substantial financial burden, especially for major illnesses or surgeries. Health insurance provides financial security by covering a significant portion of medical costs. It helps employees and their families avoid crippling medical bills and potential debt.
Peace of Mind: Knowing that they have health insurance coverage, employees can focus on their work being worry-free about the financial implications of medical emergencies. This peace of mind contributes to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Preventive Healthcare: Many health insurance plans include coverage for preventive healthcare services such as vaccinations and health check-ups. This encourages employees to prioritize their health and take proactive measures to prevent illnesses.
Tax Savings: In several countries, including the United States, employers may receive tax incentives for providing health insurance to their employees. This further underscores the financial advantages of offering health benefits.
Reduced Absenteeism: When employees have access to healthcare, they are more likely to address health or related issues promptly. This leads to reduced absenteeism, as employees are less likely to take sick days due to untreated illnesses.
What Happens to Employee Health Insurance in Bankruptcy?
While the importance of employee health insurance is undeniable, financial challenges, including bankruptcy, can raise concerns about the fate of these benefits. Here’s an overview of what typically happens to employee health insurance when a company faces bankruptcy:
Immediate Impact on Coverage: Bankruptcy proceedings can have an immediate impact on employee health insurance coverage. In some cases, the company may continue providing coverage during the bankruptcy process, while in others, coverage may be terminated or significantly altered.
Potential Changes in Coverage: Bankruptcy may lead to changes in the structure of health insurance plans offered by the company. These changes could include reduced coverage, higher deductibles, or changes in the network of healthcare providers.
Impact on Retiree Benefits: Companies that provide retiree health benefits may also be affected by bankruptcy. Retiree health benefits can be impacted as the company seeks to restructure its financial obligations.
Notification and Communication: Employers are typically required to notify employees of changes to their health insurance coverage, especially when it involves the termination of coverage. Communication is crucial during bankruptcy proceedings to ensure that employees understand their options and rights.
Legal Obligations: Employers are legally obligated to follow specific regulations and laws when altering or terminating employee health insurance coverage during bankruptcy. Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal consequences.
Impact on Employee Morale: Changes in health insurance coverage, especially those resulting from bankruptcy, can significantly impact employee morale. It’s essential for employers to communicate openly with their employees and provide support and resources to navigate the changes effectively.
Alternatives for Employees: In some cases, employees may need to seek alternative health insurance coverage, such as purchasing individual policies or exploring government-sponsored healthcare programs, depending on their eligibility and the country’s healthcare system.
The Need for Separate Health Insurance In Addition to Having Group Health Insurance
Having a group health insurance plan through your employer is undoubtedly valuable, but there are several compelling reasons why individuals should consider having separate or individual health insurance coverage in addition to the group plan. While group health insurance provides a baseline level of coverage, individual health insurance can offer additional benefits and financial security. Let’s delve into the need for separate health insurance:
Portability: Group health insurance is typically tied to your current employer. If you change jobs or lose your job, you may lose access to your group plan. Having separate health insurance ensures that you have continuous coverage regardless of your employment status. This portability is particularly crucial in today’s dynamic job market.
Customization: Group health plans are designed to cater to the needs of a broad employee base. They may not provide coverage for specific medical conditions, treatments, or medications that you or your family members require. Individual health insurance allows you to customize your coverage to match your unique healthcare needs.
Comprehensive Coverage: Group health plans often have limitations, including caps on certain treatments, exclusions, or restrictions on coverage. Individual health insurance policies tend to offer more comprehensive coverage options, including access to a broader network of doctors and hospitals.
Family Coverage: While group health insurance typically covers the policyholder and often their immediate family members, individual health insurance allows you to tailor coverage for your entire family, including spouse, children, and dependent parents. This ensures that all your loved ones have adequate protection.
Long-Term Security: Group health plans can change from year to year, and the coverage offered by your employer may evolve. With individual health insurance, you have the option to lock in your coverage for a more extended period, providing long-term security and stability for your healthcare needs.
Choice of Insurer: With a group health plan, you have little control over the insurer or the specific plan. In contrast, individual health insurance allows you to choose the insurance company that aligns with your preferences, reputation, and customer service.
Supplementary Coverage: Group plans may have gaps in coverage, such as limited dental, vision, or mental health benefits. Having individual health insurance allows you to supplement these areas with additional policies tailored to your needs.
Coverage During Job Transition: In between jobs or during career changes, there may be gaps in your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Having separate health insurance ensures you remain protected during these transitions, preventing lapses in healthcare coverage.
Financial Protection: Group health insurance often comes with cost-sharing arrangements like deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Individual health insurance policies offer various deductible and copayment options, enabling you to select a plan that best suits your budget.
Retirement Planning: As you plan for retirement, individual health insurance can bridge the gap between employer-sponsored coverage and Medicare eligibility. It ensures that you have continuous healthcare coverage throughout your retirement years.
Tax Benefits: In many countries, including the United States, individual health insurance premiums may be tax-deductible, providing potential tax benefits that are not available with group plans.
Tailored Network: Individual health insurance allows you to choose healthcare providers and hospitals that are most convenient or preferred for you. This can be especially important if you have specific medical needs or prefer a particular doctor.
While group health insurance provides valuable coverage, having separate health insurance offers flexibility, customization, and continuity of coverage. It’s essential to assess your unique healthcare needs, budget, and long-term goals to determine if individual health insurance is a necessary addition to your existing group plan. Ultimately, the combination of both group and individual health insurance can provide comprehensive protection and peace of mind for you and your family’s health and financial well-being.
Employee health insurance is a vital component of employee benefits packages, offering numerous advantages for both employees and employers. It ensures the well-being and financial security of employees, promotes a healthier and more engaged workforce, and aids in talent recruitment and retention.
However, in challenging financial times, such as bankruptcy, the fate of employee health insurance can be uncertain. Employers facing financial difficulties must carefully consider the impact of bankruptcy on their employees’ health coverage and adhere to legal obligations and regulations.
Navigating the complexities of bankruptcy and its impact on employee health insurance requires open communication, legal compliance, and a commitment to supporting employees during challenging times. Ultimately, even in the face of bankruptcy, employers should strive to maintain their commitment to the well-being of their workforce to the best of their abilities.
Israel should be wary of depending on US help. It has to defend itself
Israel should be wary of depending on US help. It has to defend itself, stresses Stephen Bryen, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and is a leading expert in security strategy and technology.
The well-respected Israeli think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) has proposed that Israel ask for a security treaty with the United States. The proposal is in an editorial form and has no signatures attached to it. Therefore it isn’t clear if the proposal comes from the INSS Director, Manuel Trajtenberg, or is the consensus of the organization’s research staff. Such a defense treaty has long been opposed by most of Israel’s security establishment on the grounds it would inhibit Israel’s freedom of action and tie Israel irrevocably to the United States.
According to the policy proposal, the reason for Israel to pursue a defense treaty is ostensibly because Saudi Arabia is pursuing such a treaty and that without Israel also applying for a defense treaty, the Saudi proposal won’t be accepted. It is quite true that there is serious opposition to Saudi Arabia in the US Congress, mainly on the basis of human rights complaints. A defense treaty would require a two thirds vote of approval in the US Senate. Saudi Arabia on its own would fail to get Senate approval and “bundling” an Israeli treaty with a Saudi one, is probably not possible, even though INSS somehow thinks it can be done.
It is by no means clear why Israel would want a defense treaty, given its strong need to have freedom of action toward Iran. Similarly it is hard to see how Saudi Arabia would benefit from a US defense treaty, since the US is unlikely to bomb Tehran.
There are other complications for Israel as well. Would a defense treaty apply to attacks by non-state actors such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or attacks originating from the Palestinian West Bank? The US would never agree to a text that obliged it to come to Israel’s aid under terrorist attack. In fact, the US response to terror attacks against Israel and Israeli citizens has always been subdued at best.
Presumably a defense treaty would protect Israel from a Russian attack, but a direct Russian attack is extremely unlikely. However, the Russians would see a defense treaty between the US and Israel as Israel taking sides in the bigger geostrategic struggle between Washington and Moscow. This could encourage the Russians to step up arms supplies to Syria and Iran, something that does not serve Israel’s interests. In practice Israel and Russia have found practical ways to cooperate and to try and avoid confrontation.
INSS makes the point that a defense treaty might facilitate defense technology cooperation with the United States. In many ways Israel is a brain trust already for the United States and is able to pioneer in many areas important to US security.
INSS says that “As an official ally, Israel’s access to advanced American weaponry and unique technologies would be guaranteed for the long term, thereby maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge over time.” Unfortunately defense treaties do not guarantee or assure access to US weapons or unique technologies. Technology sharing is always a matter of national interest that is defined by time and circumstances.
What isn’t clear is why INSS decided that Israel needs a defense treaty now?
If it was to help out Saudi Arabia there is no reason to believe it would do so. There is little evidence that favors a US-Israel defense treaty, unless the real idea is to make Israel depend on the US for its future security.
If that is the point, Israel should be wary of depending on US help. It has to defend itself, Stephen Bryen concludes.
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