On 14th November 2012, StreetNet affiliates and partners around the world celebrating the 1st International Street Vendors Day. This year also coincided with the 10th Anniversary of StreetNet.
The International Street Vendors Day was celebrated for the first time this year and will be continued every year. It will be a day to celebrate the contribution of street vendors to national development and to call attention to issues of particular concern. This year the theme identified by the International Council is "Street vendors are workers with the same right to organisation, representation and social protection as other workers!"
Umbumbano Traders Alliance, an affiliate of StreetNet celebrated last Wednesday at the Durban City Hall. The hall was packed with hundreds people who attended this event. There were songs, dances and poetry from entertainers who belong to the informal sector. The celebratory mood was also punctuated with an air of seriousness as objectives were outlined and from the discussions new resolutions were taken for the way forward.
Representatives from the local government were present including business support and third parties such as the South Africa Municipal Workers Unioun and the South African Communist Party. It was agreed that traders and local government have to find a way to work together. Harassment from officials of the municipality including police was still to be tackled. Street traders and informal workers discussed solutions as they commented that there is still harassment despite the informal trade being around for more than 150 years. "Harassments must be immediately suspended until an agreed process is formed between Ubumbano and the various municipalities in the province," said Mzwandile Mavula, Ubumbano Secretary. It was also urged that the Street traders should be responsible and not engage in criminal activities. Councillors must also respect traders and represent them and their needs.
Mavula also talked about how Social Protection Floors play an important role for informal workers and traders. Countries have to commit to a sustained focus on programmes for the poorer people, with plans and budgets allocated for serious implementation. It focuses mainly on what national governments should do for informal workers. The social protection floor was spoken about in detail and is based on a package of basic securities which is proper healthcare, food security, child care and Public infrastructure. Public Infrastructure consists of access to water, sanitation, proper trading spaces, waste disposal and transport. Workers in informal employment should be represented in all institutions where decisions are made which affect their lives.
"The social protection floor is based on the four pillars of decent work which are employment opportunities, workers’rights, representation and social protection. Informal workers work in unregulated and unprotected conditions with little or no access to social protection. One of the resolutions of the meeting is for Ubumbano to have a service centre that focuses on those areas and where informal workers can visit if they need help." he said StreetNets Anniversary was also celebrated and in the ten years has become a truly world-wide organisation as it is a worker organisation that broadens, networks and represents their members through national and international structures. It is recognised as the voice of street vendors and respected for its policies, programmes and campaigns.
For more information contact
Mzwandile Mavula, Ubumbano Secretary: 078 539 2927
Sharon Pillay, Public Relations and Media – StreetNet International: 072 2577 317