STREETNET addresses the adversities faced by informal workers and their rights at International Labour Conference

11 June 2012

StreetNet, an international federation of 48 organisations of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Eastern Europe, representing 501 178 paid-up members, wishes to acknowledge work done by the ILO to promote policies for decent work, including in relation to workers in the informal economy, since the adoption of the Conclusions on Decent Work and the Informal Economy at the 90th session of the International Labour Conference in 2002.

Souley ZeinabouSouley Zeinabou, StreetNet international Council member from FENASEIN in Niger addressed the plenary sitting of 101st session of ILO’s International Labour Conference. Various issues were highlighted.

Accordingly, StreetNet has participated in the Committee on Migrant Workers in the Global Economy in the 92nd session of the Conference in 2004, the Committee on the Employment Relationship in the 95th session in 2006, the Committee on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work in the 99th session in 2010, and the Committee on Social Protection Floors for Social Justice and a Fair Globalisation in this 101st session of the Conference in 2012. At national level, StreetNet encourages its affiliate organisations of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to participate in the Decent Work Country programmes to ensure a substantial element of work in relation to workers in the informal economy.

StreetNet’s approach is underlined by the promotion of a process of formalisation from informal to formal work defined by workers from different sectors of the informal economy, as follows:

  • Recognition in law of workers in the informal economy;
  • Integration of indirect taxes and other revenues already paid by informal workers into official tax systems (in accordance with the principle of progressive taxation);
  • Extension of social security to all;
  • Statutory negotiating forums, including at local government level;
  • Participatory budgeting, at both national and local government level;
  • Formalisation into genuine worker-controlled cooperatives;
  • Transformation of the informal economy into social solidarity economy.

StreetNet would like to congratulate the Director-General on the rapid response of the ILO to the call of the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation and the Global Jobs Pact of 2009 by immediately working on a Recommendation on Social Protection Floors which we anticipate being adopted at this 101st session of the International Labour Conference. We believe that this will go a long way to "preventing or alleviating poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion" as experienced on a daily basis by workers in the informal economy worldwide.

StreetNet wishes to draw to the attention of Members of this organisation to the role that local governments would need to embrace in implementation of programmes for effective extension of decent work and social protection to workers in the informal economy. We urge governments to bring their local government authorities into their Decent Work Country Programmes and Social Protection Floors programmes as a matter of urgency, and to:

  • encourage them to adopt Local Economic Development strategies promoting retention of work and existing livelihoods, and promoting innovative local social protection schemes;
  • sensitise them about the negative long and medium-term consequences of any short-term measure which has the effect (albeit unintentional) of destroying livelihoods, especially of the most vulnerable workers, while attempting to achieve social inclusion;
  • urge them to engage in extensive and effective social dialogue with objective of:
  • being fully accountable to their civil society constituents;
  • improving levels of transparency about development decisions involving public assets;
  • engaging the participation of the most vulnerable workers in the solutions at local and government level

Such social dialogue should complement other levels of collective bargaining and social dialogue (i.e. bipartite, tripartite, multi-partite, national and international) with all social partners, including organized informal economy workers. StreetNet’s participation in this discussion is in response to the strong message of our members who have been excluded for so long from inclusive policies and processes: "Nothing for us without us!"

For more information contact:
Pat Horn
International Coordinator
StreetNet International
Tel.031 307 4038
Cel.076 706 5282
e-mail: coordinator@streetnet.org.za