Implementation of ILO Recommendation 204 in South Africa

by Pat Horn, StreetNet International Coordinator

Pat Horn, StreetNet International Coordinator shares the progress made towards implementation of the ILO Recommendation 204: (Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy) in South Africa.

Soon after the adoption of ILO Recommendation 204 (R204) at the International Labour Conference in Geneva in June 2015, the Department of Labour of the Government of South Africa convened a meeting of government (including the Department of Labour (DoL), the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government) with organised labour and organised business. But they forgot to involve any representatives of workers and economic units in the informal economy!

Meeting attendees established a Task Team – but by 2017 the Task Team had still not done any work. In the meantime, the Community Constituency of the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) was putting a pressure on the Pretoria office of the ILO and in the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) Steering Committee to initiate work on implementation of R204.

Because of this pressure, a national tripartite-plus workshop on the implementation of R204 at both national and local government levels was convened in May 2017. Workshop attendees agreed to revive the Task Team and to add members from the Community Constituency to represent workers in the informal economy. Since then, the National Task Team has done the following:

  1. Increased coordination between national government departments. DoL acts as the lead department, bringing in the Economic Development Department (EDD), Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (COGTA), South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Social Development Department (DSD), Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (DAFF);
  2. Established a Sub-Committee to identify Legal Reforms required to align South African laws with ILO Recommendation 204;
  3. Convened a National Dialogue on the Informal Economy and the Future of Work in March 2018;
  4. Developed a Roadmap to Facilitate Transitions from the Informal to the Formal Economy. This is a detailed plan involving the following five strategic pillars:
    • Building an enabling regulatory and policy environment for supporting the transition;
    • Strengthening the participation of workers and economic units in the transition;
    • Strengthening the capacity of national, provincial and local government to adequately provide mechanisms for compliance measures;
    • Measuring informality;
    • Coordination of processes.

Nothing For Us Without Us!!