StreetNet marks International Workers’ Day – 1 May, 2016

Happy International Workers’ DAY!

International Workers Day, also known as Labour Day – is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement and occurs every year on the 1st May!

StreetNet Affiliates around the world mark this Day every year in different ways: from holding meetings to mass gatherings and marching in their countries to raise their voices, to put forward their demands, to emphasize on informal workers’ concerns and challenges.

On this Day, both formal and informal workers recognize and continue to act in solidarity with each other around the whole world because the struggle for women’s rights, migrant rights, informal workers’ rights, social and economic justice knows no borders.

Thus, SVP (Street Vendor Project), Affiliate from the USA (New York City) conducted a series of activities dedicated to the Worker’s Day.

On April 26, Vendors vented about the city’s long-standing permit cap at a City Hall rally. Hundreds of street vendors waved signs demanding “More Permits Now."

According to the Street Vendor Project, some 15,000 vendors operate illegally – or pay up to $25,000 to rent a permit that would only cost $300 through legal channels.

Sean Basinski, director of the Street Vendor Project, said his organization has called on City Hall to lift the cap for over two years.

"We have been waiting for the right to simply work legally," he said. "All they want is to be able to sell food.

They’re not asking for government hand-outs; they just want a right to work."

On May 1st SVP led a powerful action to protest the city’s limit on street vendor permits.

"Street vendors are demanding respect. We come with concern and we come with no shame. We come to let you know that it’s not a crime to feed our families," – noted one of the protestor.

Ukrainian Affiliate – Free Trade Union of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine (FTUEU), along with other branch unions affiliated to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU) started to mark this Day on April 28, combining it with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

However, the gatherings looked more as a protest action. An appeal to the newly appointed Prime Minister of Ukraine was announced in which particular attention was drawn to the inadmissibility of fixing authority’s administrative errors using the poor people, reducing social protection, increasing unjustified tariffs etc. The unions also opposed a Draft Labour Code, which was adopted by the Parliament in the first reading.

FTUEU representatives in their speeches emphasized on the inadmissibility of restrictions for running a small business and activity  of self-employed people, especially – in times of crisis, war and economic recession when the unemployment rate rose sharply.

Other affiliates, such as: IDEA (Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Associations) from Cambodia, FESTIVES (Federación Sindical Trabajadores Independientes Vendedores de El Salvador) from El Salvador and others gathered at the main streets and spoke about their main concerns.

In Republic of Sierra Leone, however, May Day was celebrated together with a President of the country Dr E.B. Koroma who was taking a walk with workers on this Day before addressing the crowds.