1. Archive

World's job crisis affects 1 in 3 workers

Published Oct. 6, 2005

Nearly 1 out of 3 workers in the world's labor force either has no job or is earning too little to live decently, the International Labor Organization reports.

Despite a decline in joblessness in the United States, the U.N. organization calls the situation "the worst global employment crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s."

President Clinton has invited officials of six major industrial countries _ Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada _ to a two-day meeting March 14 and 15 in Detroit on ways to create jobs.

Labor leaders from the seven countries, including Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, told Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Friday that more government spending on roads, bridges and schools is needed to create jobs.

"Unemployment, not inflation, is the main threat to the economies," the labor leaders said in a statement.

In the United States more people are joining payrolls, and earnings are rising. But around the world, 120-million people are registered as unemployed. The ILO, which has 169 member countries, thinks many more millions get tired of looking for work or never bother to register.

Michel Hansenne, the ILO's director general, said both industrial and developing countries face persistent, long-term joblessness.

Spain led the industrial countries last year with 22.7 percent unemployment, compared with 6.9 percent in the United States and 2.5 percent in Japan.

"Europe's generous welfare benefits help keep unemployment high, while the relatively stingy U.S. system keeps people working, but at stagnant wages," said Barry Bosworth, a U.S. economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"Neither addresses the real problem: declining demand for low-skill workers," Bosworth wrote in the current issue of the bimonthly International Economic Insights.

Gunmen kill 11 in South Africa

BHAMBAYI, South Africa _ Masked gunmen moved methodically through this community of tin and wood shacks near Durban early Sunday, burning houses and killing 11 people.

The massacre, which residents said was yet another eruption of a feud between the African National Congress and its main black rival, was the third mass killing linked to politics in the Natal region in a month.

The ANC reacted strongly, saying in a statement that South Africa's first all-race elections April 26-28 could not be free and fair if violence continued. It called on its rival, the Inkatha Freedom Party, to cooperate with police investigators.

Hernus Kriel, the government's law and order minister, blamed both Inkatha and the ANC, accusing them of doing nothing to control their supporters.

More than 200 people have been killed in Bhambayi in the ANC-Inkatha feud over the past two years, among thousands killed nationwide in political violence.

Charge by woman at U.N. upheld

An international judge has found in favor of an American woman at the United Nations who accused a high-ranking Argentine superior of sexual harassment, and the accused official has resigned.

But rather than quelling the long-running furor, the ruling in the United Nations' first formal sexual harassment case has opened new wounds in the organization.

Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has refused to make public the Jan. 21 report from Justice Mella Carroll, an Irish judge he asked to investigate the charges bought by Catherine Claxton.

Because U.N. employees are covered by diplomatic immunity, the organization's internal justice system offers the only recourse for grievances against them.

After a 15-day hearing including testimony from many people, Justice Carroll found "clear and convincing evidence" that the official, Luis Maria Gomez, had assaulted Claxton in his office in 1988, and that this constituted sexual harassment. A copy of the report was furnished to the New York Times by a senior U.N. official sympathetic to Claxton.

Justice Carroll also found that the next year, after Claxton complained to Gomez about the incident, he tried to have her job reclassified in such a way that she would no longer be eligible to hold it.

In the latest twist in the case, the administrator of the U.N. Development Program announced at Gomez's farewell party on Feb. 28 that Gomez would be returning to the program as an unpaid senior adviser for four months.

Elsewhere . . .

YANGON, Myanmar _ The head of Burmese military intelligence, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, has ruled out early talks between himself and Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He offered no timetable for further talks or for her release.

NEW YORK _ Saudi Arabia, hit a decline in world crude-oil prices and the lingering costs of the gulf war, has had trouble meeting the latest payment, $375-million, on its U.S. arms contracts. Last month, the Saudis agreed to buy $6-billion in commercial aircraft from the U.S. aerospace industry.

MOSCOW _ A train carrying nuclear warheads arrived in Russia as part of a trilateral deal with the United States to scrap deadly arms based on Ukrainian soil, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. President Leonid Kravchuk suggested Ukraine had more pressing problems. "Fulfilment of all agreements, including agreements on nuclear commitments, is possible only if the economy works," he said.