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February 19, 2009

Rising unemployment could trigger unrest - ILO
Asian nations could become vulnerable to social unrest as millions lose their jobs because of the global economic crisis, the International Labour Organisation was quoted by Reuters as saying Wednesday.

The international group said up to 23 million people will lose their jobs in the Asia-Pacific region this year, against 50 million globally in the 2007-2009 period.

"That prospect (of unrest) is a real one, and therefore social partners have to be included in policy discussions in order to make sure that the most vulnerable and most affected people are given the centre of attention in fiscal measures," Sachiko Yamamato, regional director of ILO, told reporters.

She said government stimulus packages aimed at protecting economies from the crisis had to focus on preserving and creating jobs, instead of only boosting domestic demand and stabilising financial markets.

"Asia growth has been known as a jobless growth and therefore creating jobs should be placed at the center of their economic policies."

A number of countries in the region such as Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand have stopped issuing work permits to foreign workers to counter rising unemployment, adding more pressure on other economies relying on employment opportunities abroad, the ILO said.

The organisation cautioned against this and other protectionist policies.

"Having a more coordinated effort to pull fiscal policies together, to talk about the sequencing and the timing of those fiscal policies would be a big help," said Stephen Pursey, Director for Policy Integration at the ILO.

Yamamoto added: "Support must come quickly. Expanding already agreed public spending projects is a quick, effective way to create and safeguard jobs."

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