Komi Kessouagni: "There is a need to reinforce the StreetNet Regional Focal Point and its responsibility regarding the affiliates"

22 August, 2016

Pictured is Komi KESSOUAGNIKOMI MENSANH KESSOUAGNI, the Secretary General of the Union of Vendors of Construction Materials of Togo (SYVEMACOT) and Coordinator of the StreetNet Regional Focal Point for West and Central Africa emphasized on the progress made since the last StreetNet Congress in 2013.

Comrade Komi comes from Organization which is a founding member of the National umbrella organization of workers in the informal sector of Togo – FAINATRASIT, grouping twenty three membership and union organizations of Togo, working in the sectors of handicraft, market and informal economy.

The West and Central Africa Focal Point numbered up to thirteen (13) affiliated organizations of the following countries:

Democratic Republic of Congo: 2 (LDFC & ASSOVACO), Burundi: 1 (SYVEBU), Rwanda: 1 (SYTRIECI), Togo: 1 (FAINATRASIT), Benin: 1 (UNSYNVEPIB), Senegal: 2 (CNTS & SUDEMS), Niger 1 (FENASEIN), Guinea: 1 (CNTG), Liberia: 1 (NAPETUL), Ghana: 1 (IHVAG), Sierra Leone: 1 (SLeTU).

Comrade Komi notes that the Regional Focal Point (RFP) faces both challenges and successes.

"The main challenge of the RFP to enable a fluent communication among the affiliates in the region is keeping a directory in which we will have telephone and fax numbers, Po Boxes, E-mail addresses, Skype contacts, Facebook addresses etc.

All affiliates can be joined on Skype. I am saying this because still at our meetings in 2012, all the participants received the Skype software compact disk in order to install it. We also talk about video conferences and did dozens of such communications with affiliates from Senegal, Niger and Guinea. Due to some training in English, the RFP has a fluent communication with English speaking countries. At the moment the focal point should be able to start communication between the affiliates who have already set up their Skype. The RFP is in continuous Skype communication with the Regional Organizer Sibailly Douhoure and Wisborn Malaya, who is in charge of the RFP for Eastern and Southern African region" , – underlined the Coordinator.

Pictured are union members during the National seminar for the market vendors and craftsmen with participation of the Mayor and the FAINATRASIT President in Togo

According to the Coordinator Komi, the Work Plan of the RFP has succeeded up to 75% taking into account the main challenges they face, but there is always a space for improvement if all the members are willing to work hard and jointly.

Regarding the recruitment of new affiliates, there is also some progress. Two new affiliates from Burkina Faso and Nigeria will join the RFP for West and Central Africa.   The recruitment of vendors of the markets, craftsmen, and trades in the informal sector is always on the RFP agenda.

Comrade Komi noted that they are also working on organizing young people and they require at least 30% of youth by country in the branches after every activity the affiliates hold in their countries. The motivating force of the members by sensitization and training of youths has been also shown.

There was a huge step forward with the «New Manifesto Campaign » and the launching of the «Guide for the New Manifesto Campaign».

The Day of November 14 became a real Day for the actors of informal economy to express their concerns and demands. Five of the managing members of FAINATRASIT had followed the linguistic training in English to facilitate exchanges with English speaking affiliates.

There is also some development of social and solidarity economy initiatives by creating a health care and tontine mutual.

However, Comrade Komi suggests "reinforcing the Focal Point and its responsibility regarding the affiliates".

He recommends the following:

  • To improve the communication between the affiliates in the region
  • To set a regional training of affiliates and allow exchanges during the training;
  • To enable affiliates to be trained in French language for English speaking countries and English for French speaking countries to avoid the language barrier;
  • To admit  responsible of the focal points’ coordinators in the international council to serve as a bridge between the executive and the affiliates;
  • To support training projects on the role and responsibilities of the members of the executive board of affiliate organizations;
  • To support the training, sensitization, and a Health care credit and savings mutual for a better living of the affiliates;
  • To create a network of focal points in view to share challenges and improvements in the region.

In conclusion, the Coordinator Komi KESSOUAGNI stated:

"We are exhorting officials and managers in charge of the affiliated organizations to work hard for better working conditions of the informal sector workers, since our country is moving towards the formalization according to what came out of the 104th Session of the ILO Conference in 2015".

Interviewed by Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer, August 2016

“No city can be inclusive, equitable and sustainable without the inputs from the informal workers!”

15 August, 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

Pictured is Juliana Brown Afari during her participation in the PrepCom3 in Surabaya, Indonesia

Juliana Brown Afari, StreetNet Vice-President and WIEGO Board Member talks about her participatory experience in the third session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom3) of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which was held in Surabaya, Indonesia on 25 -27 July, 2016 at the Convention and Exhibition Hall Grand City Convex Surabaya.

The United Nations General Assembly, in Resolution 67/216, decided to establish a preparatory committee to carry out the preparations for the conference open to all Member States of the United Nations and members of specialized agencies and of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), following the same resolution, had three meetings (PrepCom1, PrepCom2, and PrepCom3) before the opening of the conference. PrepCom1 was held in New York, the USA in September 2014, PrepCom2 was held in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2015 and PrepCom3 was held in Surabaya, Indonesia in July 2016.

WIEGO as an international network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy and a close StreetNet ally, has been working to ensure that the voices of informal workers, and the visibility of their challenges, are represented. Thus, as a result of WIEGO and partners’ efforts, the informal economy is significantly represented in the Zero Draft of the New Urban Agenda.

Pictured is Juliana Brown Afari together with other representatives of informal economy sector during the PrepCom3 Meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia

Juliana Brown Afari had a good chance to participate in the PrepCom2 as well as in the PrepCom3 Meetings while being a member of WIEGO Delegation to the Preparatory Meetings before the HABITAT III Conference.

According to Juliana, the Prepcom3 Meeting was educative, full of opportunities to acquire new knowledge and experience, to take part in hot discussions and interact with different stakeholders who have different mindset and views to the related issues.

“It is very important for all the informal workers to be part of and participate in such a high level discussions because informal workers are honorable workers and have a lot of issues that need the attention of our governments. There is no country that can develop without the informal sector workers, who should be part of issue about the cities they want to see and live in the next 30-50 years.

No city can be inclusive, equitable and sustainable without the inputs from the informal workers.

Informal workers are recognized and given the opportunity to speak about the issues themselves and the opportunities to improve their livelihoods. Definitely it should be a proper dialogue and negotiation between the informal street vendors and hawkers so that the New Urban Agenda is ensured to be inclusive and covers the urban poor needs”- emphasized Juliana.

She also stressed that street vendors have to ensure that their demands, such as: right to vend in public spaces, stopping evictions, simplified regulation for informal cross-border traders and others are reflected in the New Urban Agenda which will be adopted in HABITAT III Conference in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.

“That’s why: Nothing For Us Without Us”, – concluded Juliana.

WIEGO, after participatory consultative processes with membership-based organizations of urban informal workers, developed its Policy Document on Implementing the New Urban Agenda, which clearly guides what do urban informal workers need from both local and national governments. The Document also indicates on common and sector-specific needs of urban informal workers.

To download the Document, please click here: http://wiego.org/sites/wiego.org/files/resources/files/WIEGO-MBO-Demands-PrepCom3.pdf

AZIEA shows the way to monitoring levy-collection in Zambia

11 August, 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

AZIEA members while protesting over Market Levy hike in 2014

StreetNet Affiliate from Zambia, the Alliance for Zambia Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA) was launched in October 2002. Over the years, it has faced and overcome many challenges relating to the informal economy. These include the lack of government policy on the informal sector and its development; lack of its representation in policy dialogue and decision-making and the lack of mobility to organise, recruit and service members.

One of AZIEA’s notable successes was its levy-tracking research which was launched in 2008 and completed in 2009. A Report which includes the findings and recommendations of this research, revealed a lack of institutional accountability and transparency regarding the levies collected. This was in violation of provisions of the Markets and Bus Stations Act of 2007. AZIEA had been a leading organisation in having this Act amended to ensure the proper collection of levies and their allocation.

AZIEA leader, Comrade Lameck Kashiwa, shared with StreetNet, some of the issues and challenges revealed by the research. It was initiated, he says, because of AZIEA’s suspicion that levies collected were not utilised properly as there was no service provision for both markets and bus stations which such levies should have ensured. As a major stakeholder in this, AZIEA wanted evidence on how much money was being collected and how this money was being used. Another concern was that the councils, who used one account for all monies collected, were using these to pay salaries.

Lameck Kashiwa, AZIEA General Secretary presenting and facilitating at the Lusaka Colloquium on Social Protection for the Informal Economy workers

The research AZIEA commissioned, was the first of its kind in attempting to track monies raised from market levies. The markets of Luburma (more popularly known as Kamwala Market) and New Site Market in Lusaka and Mansa respectively, were the chosen "sample" sites of the research, specifically to provide a comparative analysis between urban and rural based markets. The study used elements of the World Bank’s concept of Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS).

The findings of the 3-part report indicated serious shortcomings and malpractices in both markets, resulting in a lack of transparency and accountability about the levies collected. First, it was difficult to accurately calculate the total revenue collected from the markets since these were collected by various unofficial sources eg ad  hoc and standing committees (for security and funerals); other monies went to China Hennan. Moreover, institutional mechanisms prescribed by the Markets and Bus Stations Act 2007, such as management boards and managers to administer the levies collected, did not exist in both markets. Third, the research revealed that not all monies collected by council cashiers were receipted; in some cases over half or three-quarters of daily collections ended in individuals’ pockets instead of council coffers.

SEWA Members visiting Chisokone Market in Kitwe as part of exchange visit with AZIEA

On the positive side, Comrade Lashiwa states that the survey shows that it is possible to use PETS to monitor market levies. PETS is a critical tool to ensure  that provisions of the Markets and Bus Stations 2007 are implemented. This helps with scrutinising market budgets’ formulation, resource allocation and utilisation, and further determine the quality of service provision to the general membership.

Recalling AZIEA’s activism to get the Market and Bus Stations Act amended, by holding a strike and refusing to pay market levies, and the findings of the research,  Comrade Kashiwa noted: “The process of policy change is very tiring due to a lot of bureaucracy; hence it requires commitment and knowledge of procedure. Our suggestion is that the informal economy leadership needs to engage the trade union movement for support."

"It is also important for leadership to report back at any stage of engagement to seek support from members in a case where you may require militant actions (protests, strike-refusing to pay tax, petitioning etc.)," he concluded.

To read the full research report on “Market Levy Tracking”, please click here:

Promoting labour rights of Workers in the Informal Economy in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras

5 August, 2016

On July, 2016, representatives of Sindicato de Trabajadores Comerciantes Patentados y Afines de Costa Rica (SINTRACOPEA) and Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Independientes Vendedores de El Salvador (FESTIVES), both affiliated to StreetNet Internacional, participated in the Subregional Seminar "Effective experiences of transition to formality: Lessons learned and challenges in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras" organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Source: Facebook SINTRACOPEA. July 21st, 2016

This Seminar is part of the activities of the ILO project "Promoting respect for labour rights of Workers in the Informal Economy in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras", which lasted 45 months (October 31st, 2012 – July 31st, 2016) and aimed to promote labour rights of Workers in the informal economy (decent work and social protection) by sensitizing them, increasing the organizational capacity and productivity of workers, and improving the capacity of local and national governments to meet the needs of workers in the informal economy in municipalities of Costa Rica (Desamparados Municipality), El Salvador (Santa Tecla Municipality) and Honduras (Central District Municipality -Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela).

Source: Facebook SINTRACOPEA. July 21st, 2016

As a result of the project, organizations of workers in the informal economy in those countries got involved in Tripartite Dialogue Round Tables, and also, have established two centers, one in Costa Rica and the other in El Salvador known as "Casas de los Derechos" ("Houses of Rights"), that provide information about municipal procedures (such as, patent applications); offer mediation services when there are conflict situations with municipal authorities; and provide legal advice to exercise labour activities. Workers in the informal economy also receive training in capacity building on employability and enterpreneurship, and strengthening of organizations. These centers have considered the guidelines of the ILO Recomendation 204 concerning "The Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy".

The newly opened "Casa de Derechos" ("House of Rights") in Costa Rica has served more than 300 people (street vendors, domestic workers, most vulnerable women and migrants, etc.) only during the first month. Kattia Barquero, Secretary of Organization of SINTRACOPEA and person in charge of "Casa de Derechos" ("House of Rights") said that "WhatsApp and Facebook have been very useful to communicate the existence of the Centres and to follow up with people who have paid a visit."

Source: OIT, J.A. Reyes y R. Lobo, July 26th, 2016

The ILO has issued recommendations for sustainability of the Centers and has trained employees who worked there on migration, labour legislation, human rights, politics and leadership development issues, because it is expected that "Casas de Derechos" ("Houses of Rights") begin to function independently from August 2016.

Sources:
http://www.ilo.org/sanjose/programas-y-proyectos/WCMS_206470/lang–es/index.htm

http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/features/WCMS_502761/lang–es/index.htm

http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/features/WCMS_502745/lang–en/index.htm?shared_from=shr-tls

Informal economy in Georgia: challenges and opportunities

22 July, 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

Different continents, languages and cultures but the same challenges for the informal traders around the world.

Pictured is Miranda Mandaria, SCWU PresidentToday we are going to discover another region of StreetNet family – Caucasus and talk about informal economy in Georgia.

Due to high level of unemployment in Georgia, the majority of the population is engaged in the informal economy sector. Unemployment in Georgia for many years was one of the most urgent problems. Furthermore, it had worse indicators in the whole region.

Informal employment is observed not only in agriculture but also in other fields of activity, such as: home-based workers, street vendors, domestic workers, private tutors and nurses, workers in family businesses, small producers, taxi drivers, construction workers and others.

Most people are lured into the informal economy for the simple reason that they simply do not have other means of livelihood, and because there is a shortage of decent work in the whole country, including a low level of wages.

In light of this situation, the only national trade union center in Georgia – the Georgian Trade Union Congress (GTUC) started to organize informal workers into unions and eventually a Self-Employed and Commercial Sector Workers Union of Georgia (SCWU) was established in 2009.

In 2013 SCWU held its own Congress with 45 delegates on which Ms Miranda Mandaria was unanimously elected as a President of the SCWU. The Trade Union has six Board Members and for today 550 members.

Among the main challenges the SCWU is facing are:

  • Lack of social and legislation guarantees for informal sector workers
  • Lack of proper legislation for informal economy workers
  • Lack of knowledge of informal workers about their worker’s rights
  • Engagement of students in informal sector, who usually leave their job very quickly

Miranda Mandaria with SCWU activists while discussing union internal issues

However, SCWU is always actively involved in members’ everyday work life. “We try our best to advocate them and usually represent before the court. According to our statistics, 97 % has good results in court. We also help them to deal with employers. Most recently we helped employees from supermarket chain “GOODWILL’’ where employees were not paid for their sick leave. We also had very good and different practice in other cases”, – states Miranda about her experience as a SCWU President and GTUC lawyer.

SCWU also gets a lot of support from the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation. The latter usually assist SCWU with technical support but also provides trade union with conference rooms and new equipment.

Just recently GTUC hosted an ITUC-PERC Conference on “Care economy and Women’s Rights” where such issues like informally employed women were one of the main subjects of discussion.

During the conference the recommendations for further development were presented and it was revealed that unions through social dialogue and negotiations can achieve ensuring the right to social protection for those engaged in the informal economy.

SCWU together with GTUC are currently preparing a proposal for the resolution of problems arising between the city mayor’s office and the street vendors, such as safety at workplace, hygiene etc. 

They are also working together on implementation of the ILO Recommendation 204 on transition from informal to formal economy.

Thus, Miranda Mandaria attended the Sub-Regional Workshop on the ILO Recommendation No. 204 which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan on 13-14 June, 2016. It was a regional event where national trade union centers’ representatives discussed policies and actions of trade unions in the promotion and implementation of the ILO Recommendation No. 204.

Many participants expressed their concern with the fact that the share of informal workers remains very high and is still growing, as a result of the new wave of the economic crisis and political instability in the region. One of the sources of informal employment are informally employed refugees from armed conflict zones.

Miranda notes that it should be a will of the Government to deal with this issue in order to find a proper solution on how to make a transition from informal to formal economy smooth and without any rights’ and livelihoods’ damage for the workers concerned.

“We think that at the end of the day there shall be proper legislation and right campaign to advocate transition from informal into formal economy. Recommendations are very important, but there is a problem when it comes to adopt them into national legislation. The reason behind it is that till today Georgian Government has ratified only 17 ILO Conventions. It is very hard to activate recommendations, which are not binding but we will try our best to tackle this big challenge”, underlined SCWU President Miranda Mandaria. 

 

“Cruel Treatment Of Street Vendors” In Colombia

20 July 2016

By Pedro Luis Ramirez B.

Pictured is Comrade Pedro Luis RamirezPedro Luis Ramirez B. is a member of StreetNet International’s (SI) Audit Team which forms part of StreetNet’s Executive Committee. He is also National President of the Unión General de Trabajadores en la Economía Informal UGTI-CUT (Colombia). Below he talks about the situation of street vendors in his country.

The world watches with complacency as the Colombian government prepares to sign a peace agreement between itself and the guerrillas of FARC. It is hoped this will end the political violence that has characterised the history of our country over the last 60 years. Most Colombians would want to express their support for this event.

However, it is the same government which has now decided to declare war on poor street vendors by passing a Police Code that prohibits their trading activities. This has set back the gains made by traders in their struggle for the right to work. Such gains were formally recognised by the Constitutional Court which is the highest judicial authority in the country. Local mayors are now making a mockery of these constitutional gains. They have proceeded, as has happened in the capital city of Bogota, with the persecution and cruel treatment of street vendors, including the confiscation of their goods.

Of course, the Police Code is one of the components of an organised police state which wants to deter and prevent the emergence of social mobilisation and protest in a society characterised by inequalities, injustices and inequities. Within this, poverty is criminalised; the poor are stigmatised as a dangerous class. Street vendors become "scapegoats" for state authority actions. The state uses the media to explain its actions as part of fighting urban insecurity. However, its real purpose is to intimidate a population that is awakening to the realisation of the need to defend its dignity and citizen rights.

In Bogota, progress was made in the last decade in this regard, thanks to the organized mobilisation of street vendors and consultation with governments of the democratic left wing, which won in three successive local government elections. Norms were set to allow for the economic use of public spaces and the protection of street vendors from police abuse and that of mayors, through due process and laws.

As a result the city authorities are obliged to change their behavior of permanent persecution of street vendors, which has marked them throughout their history in the twentieth century. This obligation is clearer after the Constitutional Court found that in a social constitutional state, it is understood that a street vendor engages in vending as a livelihood, because of the inability of the state to guarantee decent employment; that evictions and seizures prevent him from performing this activity, leading the worker to total unemployment; and that this approach not only does not correspond to the exercise of authority within the Constitution that governs us, but also aggravates the problem of unemployment that afflicts us as a society. Thus, the activity of an informal worker must be understood as a solution that contributes to cover responsibilities that the State does not fulfill, which are related to employment policies and the right to work.

However, the arrival of the new mayor of Bogota, Enrique Peñalosa, has changed matters. Penalosa is described as the enemy of street vendors because of all his actions to eradicate street vending, destroy their organisations and violate their rights as citizens, in his first term in the period 1997-2000. There have been actions from the government in the same direction with evictions, abuses and confiscations. These are illegal but are glossed over as necessary for security. Street vendors are presented by the media, as people who are manipulated by "mafias" of their organisations and leaders who exploit them and commodify the public space.

Recently a judge ordered Penalosa to meet the street vendor organisations; he publicly said that he would not do so.

The UGTI, which has become the heart of Local and District Committees in the capital city, has played a leading role in the country, in the amendment of norms and governance practices that criminalise the activities and allow for the evictions of street vendors.

We also organised a mass mobilization of street vendors on February 29th. We are working very hard to hold a town hall meeting – a form of citizen participation that will allow street vendors to publicly confront the current mayor about his slanderous speeches that stigmatise them, as well as about the unconstitutional and illegal measures that violate their rights as citizens and workers, and force a consultation and social dialogue.

Pictured is Pedro Luis Ramirez (in the first row from the left) together with other StreetNet International Council Members

Aaron A Boima, National Secretary-General of SLeTU, shares some history and thoughts on ILO Recommendation 204

Aaron A Boima, National Secretary-General of SLeTU, shares some history and thoughts on ILO Recommendation 204

12 July, 2016

Pictured is Comrade Aaron A Boima, National Secretary-General of SLeTUAaron A Boima used to work as an informal trader. He became a trade unionist more than 14 years ago. Currently he serves as the National Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Traders Union (SLeTU), a StreetNet affiliate. In an interview with StreetNet International, Comrade Boima shared his rich history of organising within the informal economy.

He also gave his views on ILO Recommendation 204 for the transition of the informal economy to the formal economy, and what it really means for the informal traders in his country.

In 2006, Comrade Boima and his colleagues started organising informal economy workers into trade unions. Today, these unions are able to negotiate with government at local and national levels. A major success is a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with local government. Comrade Boima is also a member of a National Tripartite Body called the Joint National Negotiating Body (JNNB).

SLeTU, which is the national and biggest informal economy workers’ union of traders, street vendors and hawkers in Sierra Leone, was the first informal traders’ union to be registered as a trade union in Sierra Leone. It has a membership of about 667061 informal economy workers nationwide; 6000 are affiliated to the Sierra Leone Labor Congress (SLLC) and more than 22,000 are affiliated to StreetNet International.

In each administrative district town of Sierra Leone, there is an Informal Economy Platform for trade unions that are affiliated to the trade unions centre – the Sierra Leone Labor Congress (SLLC), of which Comrade Boima is the coordinator.   There are ten trade unions which organised Informal economy workers in Sierra Leone.

SLeTU and other informal worker trade unions have been working hard, together with SLLC, to get social security for all informal workers in their country. Comrade Boima is emphatic that ILO Recommendation 204 came just in time for advancing the social security issue. He said, “There is social security for formal workers in my country. I believe that ILO Recommendation 204 will improve the life of informal workers as it has key elements which provide us, informal economy workers, with advantages, such as:

  • a right to organize;
  • safety and protection of work places;
  • the setting up of a dual social security system for informal economy workers;
  • Decent work aspects;
  • cooperatives and access to finances."

He also said, "Together with the SLLC, we launched a campaign on social security in 2015. Today, we are still very keen to learn more about how other countries deal with this particular issue, how it is rolled out, especially in targeting the informal economy sector. We have obtained more information about social security protection and health insurance schemes by looking at these in countries such as Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and India. We plan to go to India soon to visit StreetNet affiliate SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association). The Philippines is also a country of interest to us. "

Informal economy Executive Board while discussing the ILO Rec. 204 at the solidarity hall of SLLCComrade Boima pointed out that the informal economy unions’ social partner in Sierra Leone, the National Social Security Insurance Trust (NASSIT), provided financial support for their visits to most of the countries he mentioned. The purpose was to look at their social security schemes and best social security practices for informal economy workers. "The social protections and the social health insurance schemes are our target as these two issues are very linked with each other," he said.

As the coordinator of SLLC, Comrade Boima urged NASSIT to review the country’s Insurance Act of 2001. It does not provide for compulsory social security for all. He said, "The world today is seeking a universal declaration for social security and health insurance for all, as stated in ILO Recommendations 204 and 202."

Comrade Boima also said that in August 2015, NASSIT conducted a nationwide survey on informal economy workers. More recently, in June 2016, another survey on health insurance was conducted. NASSIT, in collaboration with the Labor Congress and SLeTU is planning to hold a conference in October 2016 to evaluate the surveys’ findings, he underlined.

Any progress made in relation to the implementation of ILO Recommendation 204 and adoption of social security for informal workers in Sierra Leone, will be followed up and posted on StreetNet media.

Interviewed by Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

 

Celebration of May Day 2016 together with the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Minister of Labour and Social Security

Statement: SAITA to host a National Day of Action march!

8 July 2016

The South African Informal Traders Alliance (SAITA) will be hosting a National Day of Action march on Wednesday, 13th July 2016. The action is to dispel the ill-held myth that informal hawkers are but of nuisance value, a perception created as a result of unjust socio-economic profiling.

The informal economy is neither a new phenomenon nor is it a creation borne out of desire. That would be an aberration of the truth. We are the first line of defense in a continuous battle against joblessness, hunger, poverty and despair. We could justifiably claim to be of the largest job creators in the country.

Our constituency stretches across the length and breadth of this country and incorporates persons in street/market trading, as well as spaza-shop operators, small-scale fishers, home-based industries, backyard enterprises, waste pickers and other micro industries omitted from formal business institutional norms and practices. School-leavers, the retrenched, the aged, youth, asylum-seekers, refugees, and all those unable to locate work within the formal corporate and public sectors migrate to the alternative economy.

Every 20 years there is a United National Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (known as HABITAT). The United Nations General Assembly decided to convene, the Habitat III Conference to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization, to focus on the implementation of a “New Urban Agenda”. And the next conference will be held in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016.

In preparation for this, an international campaign called “The City We Need” has been started. We will send the demands of our national “The City We Want” campaign in South Africa to those allies preparing for HABITAT III, so that they can become part of the international New Urban Agenda to be adopted at HABITAT III.

The National Day of Action will be held in the following cities:

CITY

VENUE

TIME

Cape Town

Kaizergracht Street, District 6

10h00AM

Durban

King Dinizulu Park, Leo Boyd Highway

9h00AM

Port Elizabeth

Corner of Cawood & Goven Mbeki Streets

10h00AM

Polokwane

SABC Park, 19 Sri-Lanka Street

9h00AM

Kimberley

Indian Centre, Stockdale Street

9h00AM

Nelspruit

Mpumalanga Stadium, Ermelo

9h00AM

Bloemfontein

Old Ramkraal Prison, Setshabelo Centre, Dr Belcher Road

9h00AM

Mthatha

46 Jubilee Square Project, Opposite Boxer Store

9h30AM

In South Africa, from restrictions of movement to regulation of economic activities, cities have a list of bye-laws that effectively limit economic development for the poor and encourage evictions. It is time for our voices to be heard, and to make our demands for The City We Want.

We call on all Informal workers, traders, hawkers and those working from their homes and backyards and the media to join the march.

For more information contact:

Cape Town: Rosheda Muller – SAITA Acting President: 078 765 1737
Durban: Mankinto Ngobo – Ubumbano Traders’ Alliance Chairperson: 083 489 7283 (Zulu)
Durban: Asha Moodley – R2K KZN PWG Member: 078 162 4263 (English)
Port Elizabeth: Sorraiya Ahmed – SAITA Deputy Secretary: 078 398 1734
Kimberly: Thusi Jackals – 076 022 3290
Polokwane: Madikoto Samuel Mampapatla – 072 460 7668
Bloemfontein: Maneo Mgwadleka – 072 093 6189
Nelspruit: Makwakwa Siphiwe Patricia – 073 668 0406
Mthatha: Fundile Jalile – Eastern Cape Street Vendors’ Alliance President: 083 574 1129

New Urban Agenda and perspectives for the street vendors in HABITAT III Conference

23 June 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

The HABITAT III Conference, also known as the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development is going to be held in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016.

Since the conference will bring together a large range of urban actors including local authorities, civil society, representatives of workers in the informal economy, the private sector, academic and professional institutions, and all other relevant interest groups to review urban policies affecting the future of cities, we street and market vendors have a right to become part of those actors who draft a New Urban Agenda for all of us.

Every 20 years, UN HABITAT outlines an urban agenda and this year a New Urban Agenda will be decided by all the UN Member States. A new urbanization model will set fresh priorities and strategies that take into account the evolving patterns of the new century.

It is very important to mobilize around the process while the New Urban Agenda is still being formulated.

It should be noted that the role of street vendors here in the process of developing a new and inclusive urban policy is very important, as we, informal workers who perform the activity on the street, know exactly what we want and what we need for securing livelihoods and having a safe working place. That’s why we have to address our main challenges and concerns which directly affect our daily lives. All the local realities need to be brought to the table for wide international discussion.

We need to realize that the New Urban Agenda must create space for the voice, experience and strategies of the urban poor in urban policy, planning and development. It’s also a great chance to get new practices by local authorities in developing urban planning which should be participatory and inclusive.

In South Africa, StreetNet affiliate, Ubumbano Traders’ Alliance, together with members of other allied organizations SASEWA (South African Self-Employed Women’s Association), SAWPA (South African Waste Pickers’ Association), KwaZulu-Natal Fishermen’s Forum and the workers’ organizations of minibus-taxi drivers, launched "The City we Want" Campaign in Durban in March 2016. They will use Local Government elections in August 2016 to draw the attention of election candidates to their demands.

The national Campaign was part of the international "The City We Need" campaign launched by UN HABITAT in preparation for the HABITAT III.

It is an exemplary case how we need to mobilize before such international events.

Although HABITAT III will take place in October, 2016, the Habitat III preparatory process started in September 2014 and will continue until the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat III Conference in Surabaya, Indonesia, in July 2016.

During this period, 11 regional and thematic meetings have been held all over the world, mobilizing national and local governments and stakeholders.

To get an inclusive, efficient, effective, and improved document, it was decided by the UN General Assembly to organize five days of open-ended informal consultative meetings before the submission of the draft outcome in order to provide opportunity for feedback on the conclusions of the Habitat III Policy Units and the Regional and Thematic meetings.

The General Assembly also invited the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee to convene informal inter-governmental negotiations for three days in May, three days in June, and three days in July. Local Authorities’ associations and stakeholders are invited to participate in two-day informal hearings in May and June.

The first major output of the Habitat III process took place in May 2015, when agencies from across the United Nations and others published 22 "issue papers" – key technical snapshots of various sectors and thematic areas in today’s urbanization trends. The following "Issue papers" might have a particular interest of street vendors, namely: Inclusive and Safer Cities, Urban Land, Public Space, Jobs and Livelihoods, Informal Sector and Informal Settlements.

All these "Issue Papers" with translation into 7 languages can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda/issue-papers

Some Thematic Meetings issued their Declarations.

Thus, Barcelona Declaration on "Public Spaces" can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/975978dd841424298425c84df671171ca467a70f?vid=576593&disposition=inline&op=view

From October 2015 to March 2016, some 200 global experts and practitioners came together in 10 thematic "policy units" vested with offering key recommendations on the drafting and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

One of the policy units is "The Right to the City and Cities for all". The document itself can be found here:https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/c6ab256c94e1212a2f9f629a655ba5cf5e6a4312?vid=572970&disposition=inline&op=view

On June 18, a New Revised Draft of the New Urban Agenda was issued for broader discussion and can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/462d74cfb2e04878ff43c8fcca48037daf73d84f?vid=582559&disposition=inline&op=view

More documents and reports can be reached on this link: http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/explainer/2016/04/h abitat-iii-source-documents-and-resources

We encourage all StreetNet affiliates to approach their national governments and ask them to also consider and include "street vendors concerns" in their national reports which they were formally requested to prepare before the Habitat III Conference.

Let’s make difference together!

Nothing for Us Without Us!

IFWEA Meeting of the Executive Committee to discuss its Strategic Plan and Education Program

By Sibailly M. Douhoure

Partial view of participants, from Left to right: Trenton Elsley (LRS-South Africa), Katri Soder (TSL-Finland), Sibailly Douhouré (StreetNet - Cote d'Ivoire), Juan Carlos Vargas (PLADES-Peru)17 June, 2016

On 29 – 30 May, 2016 a Meeting of the Executive Committee of IFWEA took place in Gothenburg, Sweden.

IFWEA – International Federation of Workers` Education Associations is the international organisation responsible for the development of workers` education. It brings together national and international trade unions, workers` education associations, NGOs and foundations engaged in the provision of adult education opportunities for workers and the communities in which they live throughout the world. StreetNet International is also affiliated to the IFWEA.

At the invitation of Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund (ABF), its affiliate in Sweden, the International Federation of Workers` Education Associations (IFWEA) held its Executive Committee meeting on 29thand 30th of May 2016 at Gothenburg, Sweden. Partial view of participants: from left to right: Katri Soder(TSL-Finland)  Sibailly Douhouré (StreetNet - Cote d'Ivoire), Juan Carlos  Vargas (PLADES-Peru)Particularly, IFWEA Strategic Plan for 2016-2019, the financial report of the 22nd Congress held in 2015 and new affiliations were topics to be examined. The meeting was chaired by Susan Schuman, President of the IFWEA. Helen Pettersson, the President of ABF and also Vice-President of IFWEA addressed the meeting as the host organization.

Elected as member of the Executive Committee at the 22ndCongress of IFWEA held in Lima, Peru, on the 4thand 5th of December 2015, Sibailly Douhouré, Organizer and Educator of StreetNet participated in this important meeting.

The main idea of the IFWEA education program is to try to find how StreetNet affiliates in all regions of the world could benefit particularly from the study circles by training method as well as online training of IFWEA`s Academy.

Partial view of participants (from right to left: Saliem Patel (IFWEA-South Africa) Helen Pettersson (ABF-Sweden), Juan Carlos Vargas (PLADES-Peru), Sibailly Douhouré (StreetNet - Cote d'Ivoire), Trenton Elsley, (LRS-South Africa)Before the IFWEA Executive meeting, Arbetarnas Bildningsforbund offered a three day long program filled with panels, workshops, tours, lectures and much more on different topics within the two themes abolishing the class society and strengthening the popular movements. The program also included a reception hosted by representatives of Gothenburg Municipality and a dinner in the beautiful Eriksbergshallen. The three-day long event ended on Saturday 28th May with a fun day at Sweden`s biggest carnival, called Hammarkullens carnaval.

All these activities were accomplished thanks to the dynamism of the leaders of ABF who I would like to thank and in particular Helen Pettersson, President of ABF.

The next Executive Committee meeting expected to be held in Cape Town in South Africa in November 2016.