South African National Day of action against Labour Brokers: Call for strengthening the Social Solidarity Economy

5 March 2012

In solidarity with COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) StreetNet International calls on organisations of street vendors and informal traders in South Africa to unite with the rest of the South African working class in observing a National Day of Action against the use of Labour Brokers on Wednesday 7th March 2012.

In most countries of the world, job loss is increasing at alarming levels as a result of adverse economic and market policies imposed for decades by the global neoliberal system, forcing between 30 to 70 percent of its economically-active population to seek work in what is known as the Informal Economy, for example as street vendors or self-employed workers. The working and living conditions of most of these workers are precarious, in conditions of extreme poverty and without any technical, financial and social assistance from the state, and the majority in this sector are women who are breadwinners who support their families.

Despite such adverse conditions, such workers maintain their working activity, avoiding partial or total unemployment through micro and small enterprises, producing and offering a variety of goods and services, as well as handicrafts and basic consumer products. This sector of the informal economy, street vendors or self-employed workers, despite the adversities in which they work, plays an important role in the economies of their countries through the positive impact they have on coping with unemployment, contributing to the GDP and social stability, to the point of forming a new economic sector that is governed by principles and values of social responsibility, entrepreneurship and solidarity, which is vital to the development of democracy and economic citizenship – known as the Social Solidarity Economy.

StreetNet international believes that Labour Brokers only intensify the vulnerability of workers in the informal economy, who find themselves working under highly exploitative conditions for labour brokers who feed off the desperation of the working poor.

It is more appropriate to put resources and energy into transforming the informal economy into a strengthened Social Solidarity Economy whose values are consistent with the objectives of social inclusion, decent work, training and reintegration of disadvantaged persons, and which provides substantial social innovation, supporting people who face difficulties in finding individual solutions to social problems and quality of family life, and gives them the capability of taking care of their minor children and older relatives in a non-discriminatory environment of equality for all.

Instead of trying to regulate labour brokers, we call on government to work together with all workers in the formal as well as the informal sectors of the economy to build a sustainable Social Solidarity Economy in which people are more important than profits.

Pat Horn
International Co-ordinator

Tel 031 307 4038 (w)
031 201 3528 (h)
076 706 5282 (cel)

e-mail: coordinator@streetnet.org.za (w)
phaps@netactive.co.za (h)