StreetNet recently held their 4th triennial International Congress in Santiago, Chile, hosted by StreetNet`s national affiliate SINTRALOC, supported by the Central Workers Union (CUT) to which SINTRALOC is affiliated in Chile.
The Congress was attended by 93 delegates from forty countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, representing a paid up membership of 567 106 members who assembled during 25 – 27 March 2013.
After the Congress, there was an international workshop on FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and its effects on street vendors and informal traders, followed by a fundraising workshop run by WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising) for StreetNet`s 46 affiliates, with interactive media and social media training offered for all delegates
The International Congress is the supreme governing body of StreetNet, which meets once every three years.
Elections were held on the second day of the Congress, where a 15 person (eight women) International Council was elected, to be chaired by the president of SIVARA, Union of Street Vendors of Argentina, Oscar Silva. The Vice President is Juliana Brown of the Ghana StreetNet Alliance; the Secretary is Cesar Garcia Arnal, UPTA, Union of Autonomous Workers of Spain; and Treasurer is Souley Zeinabou from FENASEIN, National Federation of Informal Sector of Niger.
Four Resolutions were passed by the Congress, i.e.
- Europe and Central Asia will become the 5th StreetNet region. The other four are Asia, the Americas, Southern/East Africa, and West/Central Africa.
- Informal migrant labour and cross-border trade.
- Regulation of street trade that will support informal traders.
- Positive terminology to recognize the identity of workers in the informal sector – and against the use of terminology that undermines street traders or other informal workers.
StreetNet International was founded in 2002, and has followed a sustained process of growth, affiliated 48 organisations of workers in the informal economy in countries of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe (mainly Eastern Europe).
Unemployment rates continue to increase at alarming levels, resulting from adverse economic and market policies imposed for decades by capitalist economies in the neo liberal global system, forcing million of workers to engage in various activities in the informal economy such as street vendors and informal traders.
StreetNet International has successfully secured its democratic mandate for the way forward until its next Congress in 2016. StreetNet`s vision for the coming years is the achievement of the following objectives:
- Unity between street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers, including informal cross-border traders;
- Visibility of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers, including informal cross-border traders;
- Strengthened democratic representative organisation of street vendors and informal traders making a difference;
- Direct representation – “Nothing for Us Without Us”;
- Inclusive policies in operation – with measured results recorded by StreetNet.