The global pandemic gave Labour Day new meaning this year. As we pay tribute to those working tirelessly to protect public health, worries over job cuts and abuses are also growing. With the Covid-19 outbreak still raging in many parts of the world, the global and local economies may well decline further before picking up again. It is important that we stay united and weather the storm together. Coming after months of hermit-style living, most Hongkongers yesterday took to the streets for some fresh air rather than for improved labour rights. For those who had to work, they were indeed fortunate to still have a job. The unemployment rate has soared to a nine-year high of 4.2 per cent. More than 160,000 workers have been let go over the past few months It is arguably hard to talk about labour rights when the priority is to secure a job. As elsewhere in the world, workers in Hong Kong have certainly become more vulnerable as businesses explore more measures to cut costs. While they would inevitably have to make some sacrifices, employers should strive to keep as many jobs as possible. This would enable them to quickly adapt and recover when the situation stabilises. With the full extent of the global slowdown still unfolding, the government is expected to do all it can to help employers and workers tide over the crisis. The first two rounds of measures under the Anti-epidemic Fund have already been criticised as not going far enough. Dependence on handouts will only grow as the economic recession deepens. The finance chief’s revised forecast of a 4 per cent to 7 per cent negative growth in the coming year has made plain the need for more longer-term measures. Applause rings out in Hong Kong for health workers on Covid-19 front line The government on Friday renewed its commitment in a wealth of labour protection initiatives, including longer maternity leave, more paid holidays and improvements to the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme. Commendable as they are, they become secondary when the priority is to secure jobs. Concerted efforts from workers, bosses and the government are required to tackle the challenges ahead. It is time for compassion, mutual understanding and solidarity. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.