Faced with the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, states have had to implement budgetary measures to protect businesses, jobs and households. Despite the inadequacy of the data, the article, which mainly covers Germany, Spain, the United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, offers a comparative overview of these measures.
Public spending has been unprecedented in its variety and magnitude in all of these countries, which has broadly allowed businesses and households to be compensated for loss of activity. While the budgetary efforts have been considerably more substantial in the United States, there are also significant differences between the major European countries. France differs from other countries in its unwillingness to offer significant supplementary measures for households, which has probably resulted in the exclusion of certain sections of the population made vulnerable by the crisis.
Keywords: international comparison, economic policies, budgetary policies, crisis, Covid-19, France, United Kingdom, United States of America, Italy, Spain, Germany.
The effects of the crisis alleviated thanks to the recovery plan and to collective bargaining
Germany has made it through the health crisis with few restrictions. The government rapidly implemented economic assistance measures. While their execution was at times slow, they did contribute, along with collective bargaining, to protecting jobs, the competitiveness of business and the level of quality of life enjoyed by the population, thanks in particular to the enormous subsidisation of reduced activity. The measures did, however, prove insufficient to address the social disparities aggravated by the health crisis.
Keywords: Germany, Covid-19, assistance for businesses, assistance for freelancers, assistance for families, reduced activity, collective bargaining, ecological transition.
Unprecedented federal policies to protect jobs and limit poverty
Arnaud TRENTA and Virginia MELLADO
In an already worrying economic and social context, the Argentine federal government has implemented a variety of policies to support households and employers, some of which are unprecedented in their magnitude and design. For example, unconditional monetary assistance is being paid out to vulnerable groups for the first time, covering almost 60% of households. Additionally, the federal government is covering part of private sector salaries, going so far as to subsidise 37% of declared jobs. Despite these historic measures, the slide into insecurity and poverty continues and some sectors, such as hospitality, find themselves in a critical situation.
Keywords: Argentina, Covid-19, social policies, labour policies, hospitality.
An unprecedented use of flexicurity to protect the employment market
To combat the risk of economic recession brought about by the health crisis and lockdown measures, the government has made use of the tools provided by its “flexicurity” model. The effects of these measures on the unemployment rate, which is falling, demonstrate the success of the formula. However, the model appears to leave out precarious workers, as an analysis of the hospitality sector appears to confirm. This policy has, however, attracted a level of political, union, employer and societal consensus rarely seen in Denmark.
Keywords: Denmark, Covid-10, flexicurity, wage subsidies, employment market, hospitality.
Limited but coordinated economic and social measures
As a result of public health restrictions, employment in Spain fell sharply in 2020 and has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. The degradation of the employment market remains contained thanks to temporary unemployment. Business support measures have targeted very small businesses and freelancers, regardless of business sector. Among the numerous income support measures for households, the implementation of a minimum living wage is a perennial tool in the fight against poverty. In the end, Spain stands apart from other countries by virtue of its commitment to dialogue with social partners.
Keywords: Spain, Covid-19, temporary unemployment, minimum living wage, social dialogue.
An unprecedented crisis and fiscal stimulus, a labour market under pressure, and re-emerging disputes
In the United States, the sudden halt of activity due to the public health crisis has indeed caused a fall in GDP but especially a sharp deterioration of the employment market. Support measures of unprecedented magnitude for businesses and households are leading to a rapid recovery in GDP. However, the recovery of the employment market is faltering due to labour shortages in some sectors, including hospitality. While unions have been very quiet and the period unconducive to disputes, a slight increase in strikes since has been observed beginning in summer 2021, concurrent with the renewal of collective bargaining agreements for businesses. This new context may usher in a change in power relations between employers and workers in some sectors.
Keywords: United States of America, Covid-19, Joe Biden, recovery plans, employment market, leisure and hospitality, conflicts, wages, salary, unions, collective bargaining.
A firing freeze as part of the European recovery plan
The magnitude and peculiarities of the Covid-19 crisis have aroused varied responses from public authorities. In this article, we look back at the implementation of often unprecedented temporary measures (extension of social programmes, firing freeze, etc.), as well as the recovery plan and reforms expected to be rolled out from 2022. In addition, we will look at the issues raised by this unprecedented public health crisis for the Italian employment relations system.
Keywords: Italy, Covid-19, social programmes, firing freeze, European recovery plan.
The resurgence of the state
In the face of multiple waves of pandemic, the measures taken by public authorities are recalibrated on a regular basis. While the policies implemented are significant, they are also unilateral. Unions and employer bodies are confined to making requests, with or without informal consultations, and then to expressing their approval or criticism when faced with the choices made by the government. These dynamics are illustrated through the example of two heavily affected sectors: the National Health Service and retail.
Keywords: United Kingdom, Covid-19, employment policy, wage policy, health.