Informal workers demand recognition

By Chikondi Masuso

THE Malawi Union for the Informal Sector (Mufis) has said informal workers are not recognised despite being the source of livelihood of close to a third of the country.

Mufis General Secretary Mwanda Chiwambala said the Employment Act also needs to reflect the professional interests of the informal sector workers. He said the informal sector is wrongly perceived as a threat to security and the general good of the country despite offering a base of livelihood for a lot of Malawians who cannot be absorbed into the formal employment sector.

"You look at how innocent men and women plying their trade in the streets are treated. These have spent a lot of money as start up capital and yet the authorities confiscate their merchandise mercilessly and yet most of them do not have access to formal financing through the banks.

"If truth be told there appears to be neglect on the part of policy makers which has also led to not there being enough information about ·contribution of the sector to the economy through indicators such as the gross domestic product(GDP). This has in tum undermined the role of the informal sector in the country," he said.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decent Work Country Programme 4, the informal economy has experienced rapid growth but suffers worse working conditions both in form of less income, social protection, safety and representation.

In its 20l0 report, the organisation stated that 90 percent of Malawians work outside the formal sector. According to the African Development Bank, the informal sector contributes about 55 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and 80 per cent of the labour force. Nine in 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa and most employees are women and youths.

Source: Published in the National News