Theme area
Values, policies and rights, Health equity in economic and trade policies, Human resources for health, Public-private mix, Governance and participation in health
Title of publication Information sheet 5 on COVID-19: Pandemic impacts on labour – experience and responses
Date of publication
2021 January
Publication type
Publication details
Information sheet 5 on COVID-19: Pandemic impacts on labour – experience and responses January 2021
Publication status
COVID-19, labour, East and Southern Africa, unions
This fifth information sheet summarises information on how COVID-19 has affected working people in the ESA region, and the response by workers, unions, states and others, with recommendations for how to better address the impacts. Nearly a million African workers are estimated to have had COVID-19 in 2020, probably more given the low level of testing. Health workers (HWs), those in crowded or poorly protected workplaces or in crowded accommodation, those in common contact with the public and those in caring roles may be more at risk. Informal, migrant, young, disabled and female workers may be more vulnerable to COVID-related disease. Lockdowns and blocks in supply chains have disrupted key areas of employment, affecting working people’s livelihoods, jobs and mental health, and leading to stigma and social insecurity and falling remittances from African migrants and revenues for social protection. Possible responses include public health measures, including now equitable access and vaccines; workplace infection control; social protection to prevent impoverishment; protection of jobs and wage subsidies. Workers and unions have contributed to these responses, despite the pandemic undermining union operations. The brief outlines recommendations to protect workers and their rights at work, noting that not implementing such measures makes the whole of society vulnerable.
East and southern Africa region
Equinet Publication Type
Discussion brief, Policy brief