BWI: Construction could lead in post-COVID-19 recovery

BWI affiliates in the Africa and MENA region said that the construction industry can be a possible leader in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery. While it acknowledged that the industry disposed of many jobs in the middle of the pandemic, it also said that it has the capacity to rapidly generate jobs and absorb workers, especially in the construction and building areas. 

In its full COVID-19 Report in the region, BWI said that the industry can reprioritize its projects and activities such as the development of public healthcare infrastructure, access to water and sanitation as an immediate response to the crisis. It also pointed to infrastructure maintenance and refitting existing structures for carbon neutrality and extending local renewables to poor households as another possibility, which the global union said could generate new jobs being labour intensive. It said that the industry’s big-ticket projects should be balanced with smaller rural and social infrastructure investment, such as health care, waste management, water treatment and upgrading informal sector housing for de-densification.

Trade unionists also trained their sight to renewable energy infrastructure as a priority. Despite the pandemic and economic crisis, they said that this type of infrastructure remains relevant in meeting climate change challenges and absorbing job losses emerging from other sectors. 

BWI affiliates in the region also pushed for debt relief for low- and middle-income countries as a crucial development policy to ensure income support for workers and promote SDG-related spending and provide economic stimulus packages which are vital to revive industries. It argued that debt relief initiatives across private, bilateral and multilateral lenders could provide significant stimulus, specifically social infrastructure, such as water and sanitation, public health and renewable energy.