Street vendors and informal traders on the move

2 April 2012

On Friday 30 March 2012, 45 organised street vendors and informal traders from all 9 provinces met in Mangaung to chart the way forward to the establishment of a national alliance through which they will represent the members in their sector with one united voice.  The informal traders` organisations represented at the meeting included ACHIB (African Cooperative of Hawkers & Informal Businesses), Eastern Cape Street Vendors` Alliance, Kimberley Hawkers` Front, Limpopo SMME & Hawkers` Assocation, Mangaung Hawkers` Association, Mpumalanga Hawkers` Association, Johannesburg-based SA Informal Traders` Forum, Durban-based Ubumbano Traders` Alliance, Western Cape Informal Traders` Coalition and Mangaung cross-border traders.  All these organisations are united in the commitment to strengthen their voice in negotiations with authorities to put an end to the problems of harassment, discrimination, lack of recognition as workers, insecurity of workplace tenure, and other decent work deficits experienced on a daily basis by street vendors and informal traders – the majority of whom are women – trying to earn their livelihoods through the sale of goods and services in public space.

Pictured are the Street Trader Representatives at the meeting

The meeting, hosted by COSATU`s Free State Province, and jointly organised by COSATU, SAMWU (SA Municipal Workers` Union) and StreetNet International, was a continuation of a process started in 2003, which has seen national meetings being convened in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010, with more organised groups of street vendors and informal traders joining on the way.  Since the 2010 meeting, there has been significant progress in the development of provincial unity between street vendors and informal traders – and the Mangaung meeting was the first one at which all 9 provinces were finally represented.

A national Steering Committee consisting of one representative per province was established – to draw up a programme towards the launch of the national alliance later in 2012 or early 2013, coordinate the collection of comments on a draft constitution which has been circulated to the members in all provinces to study and amend, and to fundraise for this process.  StreetNet, COSATU and SAMWU have offered technical and organisational support to the Steering Committee where needed.

Cross-border trade
This was followed by a path-breaking meeting on Saturday 31 March 2012 to deliberate on and seek solutions to the additional problems of informal cross-border traders.  These were identified as:  difficulties with travel and customs documents (language, expiry dates, delays in issuing passports, etc.), difficulties in interpreting and understanding export-import laws, no facilities or infrastructure at borders for cross-border traders, sexual abuse, confiscation and impoundment of goods, and widespread corruption by border officials.

Members of StreetNet`s Lesotho-based affiliate organisation of street vendors, Khathang Tema Baits`okoli, joined this meeting to discuss the importance of cross-border unity between informal traders in Lesotho and the Free State.

The Executive Secretary of the SADC Council of NGOs (SADC-CNGO) who work in partnership with the Southern African Trade Union & Coordinating Council (SATUCC) and the SADC Council of Churches, presented an initiative they are supporting to assist cross-border traders in the SADC region to unite in an association which is in the process of being established, based on strong national member organisations of informal traders.  The emerging organisation (SACBTA – Southern African Cross-Border Traders` Association) currently has an interim committee representing cross-border traders in Malawi, Mocambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and seeks to expand its scope to include national organisations of informal cross-border traders from other SADC countries.

The meeting concluded that the most important way to promote decent work and defend the rights of informal cross-border traders is strong collective organisation and cross-border unity between the informal traders in the different countries in the SADC region.

Nothing for us without us!!
The central message from these two meetings is that street vendors and informal traders in South Africa, and in the SADC region, are gearing up to participate collectively in social dialogue and negotiations with all relevant bodies such as municipal authorities, border authorities, and government departments across borders dealing with immigration and customs issues.  In this they are supported by the organised labour movement in South Africa as well as other SADC countries.

Issued by: 

Pat Horn
International Coordinator
StreetNet International
Tel.031 307 4038
Cel.076 706 5282
e-mail: coordinator@streetnet.org.za

COSATU contact:

Sam Mashinini
Provincial Secretary
COSATU, Free State
Tel. 051 447 5230 / 5499
Cel. 082 563 6954
e-mail: sam@cosatu.org.za

Malawi Union For Informal Sector (Mufis)

International Womens Day – 8th March 2012

Women for Malawi Union for Informal Sector had an activity of sweeping and talking to the people at Manase Market in Blantyre. This market has been neglected by City Council of Blantyre. They do not collect refuse at this market;

The heap of uncollected garbage at Manase market

MUFIS women sweeping at the market 

There were several MUFIS women members from different branches in Blantyre who participated at this year’s International Women Day. This day was commemorated in style. The market is lacking a lot of things and women are the ones who are suffering a lot.  They are trading on the floor near the heap of garbage which has been there for a long time without being removed.

After sweeping they had a meeting where there were short speeches by the members. One member from the market expressed disappointment by the City Council for not collecting the garbage and that the market has no toilets and running water.

With this year’s theme of inspiring the nation to respect the rights of women at work, social, economic and development, women felt that it was right to show that women need to trade in a conducive environment Although women are not respected, they are the ones who are helping a lot to develop this country.

The chair lady second from front led the women

The chairperson for Women thanked all those who participated in this year’s activity, and to remain united in all union activities.

International Women`s Day

The Times Of India, Ahmedabad, Thursday, March 8, 2012

Deconstructing male masonry

Rachaita, The 1st All-Women Construction Workers` Co-Op, Makes History Brick By Brick

Radha Sharma | TNN

Ahmedabad: Ketan Makwana works as a civil en-gineer in a city-based company. He considers his most valued teacher in the construction industry to be his widowed mother, Madhu (45), who worked as a construction labourer. Madhu went on to be-come a highly skilled mason. She works on big sites, earning Rs 400-500 per day, and runs the family. She gives him nuggets of advice that only an experi-enced professional can offer. In fact, Ketan admits that he would have been a school drop-out had his mother not worked hard to make her place in ma-sonry – traditionally, a male bastion.

Madhu is one of the 1,000-odd stakeholders of Rachaita, the first registered only-women construc-tion workers` co-operative in the state and probably in the country. The Rachaita co-operative, regis-tered in 2005, is a part of Self Employed Women`s Association (Sewa). After a rather shaky start, the women have come into their own. After paying the women, Rachaita makes 25 per cent profit.

"We take pride in the fact that Rachaita is the only women-contractor co-op among the five-lakh-odd contractors listed with the construction giant Larsen and Toubro," says Varsha Thakar, a man-ager at Rachaita. "In fact, when we registered with the company, a senior official visited us to ascertain our skill base. The initial question of most compa-nies is whether women can really work beyond being site-helpers. We have to give live demonstra-tions to prove our skills." Currently, 450 women actively work on construc-tion sites round the year. The co-operative has worked with construction giants such as Shapoor-ji Pallonji, L&T, Safal Group and has completed work in hospitals, hotels, flats, bungalows and shops.

Rachaita`s first project was job-work on the Sabarmati Riverfront. "We jumped into the river and then learnt swimming," recalls Ramila Parmar,

Rachaita`s president. The co-operative bore losses as women were not used to working under pressure and performing heavy-duty work. "We had to break and bend iron bars and make shafts. One shaft was to be completed in three days – we did it in 18!" recalls Parmar. After completing the project seek-ing help of men, the women huddled and learnt from their mistakes. They got training from CEPT and CN Technical School and were finally ready to take the plunge.

"Now, women have lifted 22 kg bricks to make walls and have bent rods," Parmar said. "The team has 10-odd highly skilled masons and an equal number of women who have graduated to be site-supervisors called `barefoot engineers` among the women! They earn Rs 180-500 daily depending upon their skills."

Kanta Rathod, a worker, says: "If I am able to support my four children after my husband`s death, it is because of Rachaita. I got trained in masonry and now earn Rs 350 daily, round the month." Rathod, like most women now with Rachaita, used to come back from kadiya naakas empty handed 20 days a month as mechanization had taken over in the early 2000. And companies needed skilled masons, who were all men then.

International Women’s Day – 8th March, 2012 celebration.

  1. TUICO the StreetNet International affiliate in Tanzania, in collaboration with the National Center will have the symposium on 7th of March and will join other women for the big celebrations on 8th March.
  2. FEDEVAL, StreetNet Affiliate in Lima Peru, is organizing a formal event to Commemorate self-account women workers. They are inviting the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development to participate.

    FEDEVAL – STREETNET CELEBRATE !!!
    INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
    DAY OF HOMAGE TO THE SELSF-EMPLOYED WOMEN OF PERU
    AMONG THOSE INVITED ARE: STREET AND MARKET VENDORS; NEWSPAPER AND MAGAZINE VENDORS; TELEPHONE CALL VENDORS; DOMESTIC WORKERS; SOLID WASTE RECYCLERS, ETC.
    DATE: 08 MARCH 2012
    TIME: 5:00 P.M.
    PLACE: AV. URUGUAY 355 – LIMA
    LIMA – PERU

  3. FENTRAVIG, StreetNet affiliate in Guatemala, will participate in a Demonstration in the City Center to commemorate 8 March.
    The Federation will participate in the march on 8 March, in the historical centre. The Federation will march in the section of the regional campaign against the flexibility of labour, and this will be the first action by the National Coordinator of Women Unionists against the flexibility of labour. The Federation, together with other unions and union federations is driving, we will keep you informed about more actions on this theme.
  4. CIEAS organization in Swaziland will hold a meeting with all the Street vendors.
    They will be talking about local government bylaws and urban acts.
    The situation is so bad and it can come to a point where the vendors will
    not have working spaces at all.
  5. AFFE-URUGUAY

In commemoration of International Women’s Day the street vendors of the Special Fairs in coordination with social organisations linked to the theme and the Municipality of Montevideo will have cultural events and publicise gender issues amongst people visiting our two main traditional fairs: those at Villa Biarritz and at Parque Rodó. Each of these fairs hosts about 20 thousand visitors every weekend and everything that takes place there has repercussions throughout the country.

Themes linked to women have been followed with special attention by our union organization during recent years. It is for this reason that our executive committee is composed mainly of women, and they have assumed a leading role of singular importance, bearing in mind the “male-dominated” tradition of our sector.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate, on behalf of the Uruguayan fairground stallholders, all of you and all women involved in StreetNet who carry every day the heavy historical-cultural load of centuries of a world conceived for men, by men and who fashion with dignity, under very unfavourable conditions, a new just and balanced world of gender equality.

Friends throughout the world: BEST WISHES!!!

In behalf of the Association of Stallholders of Special Fairs and of the street vendors of Uruguay.

South African National Day of action against Labour Brokers: Call for strengthening the Social Solidarity Economy

5 March 2012

In solidarity with COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) StreetNet International calls on organisations of street vendors and informal traders in South Africa to unite with the rest of the South African working class in observing a National Day of Action against the use of Labour Brokers on Wednesday 7th March 2012.

In most countries of the world, job loss is increasing at alarming levels as a result of adverse economic and market policies imposed for decades by the global neoliberal system, forcing between 30 to 70 percent of its economically-active population to seek work in what is known as the Informal Economy, for example as street vendors or self-employed workers. The working and living conditions of most of these workers are precarious, in conditions of extreme poverty and without any technical, financial and social assistance from the state, and the majority in this sector are women who are breadwinners who support their families.

Despite such adverse conditions, such workers maintain their working activity, avoiding partial or total unemployment through micro and small enterprises, producing and offering a variety of goods and services, as well as handicrafts and basic consumer products. This sector of the informal economy, street vendors or self-employed workers, despite the adversities in which they work, plays an important role in the economies of their countries through the positive impact they have on coping with unemployment, contributing to the GDP and social stability, to the point of forming a new economic sector that is governed by principles and values of social responsibility, entrepreneurship and solidarity, which is vital to the development of democracy and economic citizenship – known as the Social Solidarity Economy.

StreetNet international believes that Labour Brokers only intensify the vulnerability of workers in the informal economy, who find themselves working under highly exploitative conditions for labour brokers who feed off the desperation of the working poor.

It is more appropriate to put resources and energy into transforming the informal economy into a strengthened Social Solidarity Economy whose values are consistent with the objectives of social inclusion, decent work, training and reintegration of disadvantaged persons, and which provides substantial social innovation, supporting people who face difficulties in finding individual solutions to social problems and quality of family life, and gives them the capability of taking care of their minor children and older relatives in a non-discriminatory environment of equality for all.

Instead of trying to regulate labour brokers, we call on government to work together with all workers in the formal as well as the informal sectors of the economy to build a sustainable Social Solidarity Economy in which people are more important than profits.

Pat Horn
International Co-ordinator

Tel 031 307 4038 (w)
031 201 3528 (h)
076 706 5282 (cel)

e-mail: coordinator@streetnet.org.za (w)
phaps@netactive.co.za (h)

For Brotherly Organizations and cooperatives institutions

We would like to inform the brotherly organizations, national and international cooperatives institutions the incident that touched the lives of more than 5.000 Honduras workers/ the markets workers in Tegucigalpa, of which 1,800 are affiliated to our federation that lost as much as they had invested on their stalls /working areas.

All and each one of the companions remain at the mercy of the government support. The government does not build nor maintains again their working spaces in order to continue exercising their activity with which they have earned themselves the life for more than thirty years. The incident was caused by huge fire that burnt into ashes five markets located in the centre of the capital of the republic of Honduras specifically in Comayagüela municipality of the central district.

The incident took place in the framework of a series of incidents that happened in the period of the recent past week. Some are related to incidents that were never seen in our country such as: the arrozaso and the gasolinazo, the first one related to the illegal introduction of thousands of tons of rice to which the Honduran producers reacted immediately, what became a national and international scandal. The same thing occurred with the introduction of illegal sale of fuel. All this happened in view of patience of the competent authorities, who are directly and indirectly guilty and had not been taken to courts of justice. (the impunity continues). The fires, these occurred in the middle of the scandal of the arrozaso and the gasolinazo, and is considered as largest fires and most painful history in Latin America, that happened in the night of February 14 exactly at 9: 51 pm, in the penal farm located in the valley of Comayagua where more than 850 inmates were found imprisoned. The national opinion is that the crime was planned due to lack of help for the victims from the authorities when they wanted to escape death as none of the authorities of the penal helped them. Instead the prison authorities responded with gun shots without giving attention to the calls of aid. The firemen team reported to the incident place but upon arrival at the entrance of the prison, the prison authorities did not allow them to enter in due time. Consequently 359 people died of burns and they were burnt beyond recognition. Presently, the process of identification by forensic authority is in progress. More than 10 people managed to escape from the flames with small and large burns. 6 of them died in the hospital while the other are in the process of recovery. Among those are relatives of our affiliates. They are mainly located in Comayagua. The other incident is the fire that burnt down 5 markets that had the same rapidity. The national public think that this matter of another incident was properly planned and executed by criminals.

CONCLUSIONS

-At present we are in a political year and is curious that similar facts have smaller impact and proportion they have been given in other political years of recently passed times, as it is the case of the jail of El Porvenir , Department of Atlanta and that of San Pedro, where a quantity of inmates died burned and the responsible authorities. Up to now it has not been presented a convincing report (9 years), it is suspected that they intend to deviate the attention of the gasolinazo and the arrozaso so that the same remain in the impunity, similarly , it is suspected that someone may be creating these scenarios and utilize them to win followers and political sympathy. In the case of the prison in Comayagua the authorities did not know the regulation related to cases of emergency. By any means, the Honduran nation and her social organizations are requesting a truthful and exhaustive investigation and free from any political criterion in the meantime our organization is realising recollection activities of any kind of solidarity support for contributing on certain immediate needs of our affiliates and, likewise we motivate some type of supportive initiative that come from you for being able to channel it for our means, we are structured internally for facilitating that reach directly the affected people.

San Pedro Sula Cortes, 20 February 2012
FOTSSIEH EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

1000 vendors against $1000 fines demonstration 16th February at the City Hall at 12 p.m.

The StreetNet affiliate in USA, Street Vendor Project, in conjunction with another street vendors’ organisation !VAMOS Unidos! are organizing 1000 vendors to demonstrate against $1000 fines levied on street vendors, on 16th February, at the City Hall at 12 p.m.

New York City vendors receive exorbitant fines for minor violations that have nothing to do with health or safety. Violations such as having licence in your pocket instead of on display, having boxes beside your table, being one foot too close to the crosswalk and so on, accumulate to become $1000 each or more. This system puts hardworking vendors out of work.

Their main demands are;

  • Lower $1000 fines
  • Change the way the charges escalate

Message of Support to NASVI National Campaign for a Central Law

"20th January National Street Vendors Day of India"

FEDEVAL, in a meeting of its Executive Council, unanimously agreed to issue a message of support for the initiative undertaken by NASVI, since January 20 2004, this historic date, with the objective of achieving a Law to regulate the activities of street vendors of India, a Law which will recognise the value of their work; a Law which will guarantee their fundamental social and labour
rights; a Law which will promote Decent Work for All.

If this proposed Law is achieved by NASVI, which we sincerely hope will be the case, it will be a magnificent precedent for StreetNet affiliates, who with this example of the strategy and struggle of NASVI to inspire them, will also struggle together to achieve a Law to guarantee justice for the street vendors in every country of each of us.

This 20th January FEDEVAL congratulates and supports NASVI (INDIA).

Long live the street vendors day in India!

¡¡Viva Nasvi!! ¡¡Viva Fedeval!!

¡¡Viva Streetnet International!!

LIMA – PERU

Executive Council
FEDEVAL

NASVI National Day of Action for a Central Law for Street Vendors – 20th January

The StreetNet affiliate, the National Alliance of Street Vendors of India, is organising a series of activities throughout the country in order to mark the National Street Vendors’ Day on 20th January. This date was when the Government of India approved the National Policy on Street Vendors in 2004. Since then, NASVI has been campaigning for a Central Law in order to strengthen the protection provided to street vendors. 

NASVI is planning conventions, multi-stakeholder consultations, workshops and round tables, as well as public meetings, rallies and demonstrations. 

NASVI passed a major milestone in this campaign when, last year, the Government agreed in principle to introduce the Central Law in Parliament. NASVI is now seeking to ensure that the law provides the strongest protections possible for street vendors.

Streetnet International Coordinator, Pat Horn, has written to NASVI to support the national day of action.  She stated in her letter dated 15th January:

"StreetNet supports the position of NASVI that the law should be comprehensive and effective in ensuring a secure and dignified livelihood for all street vendors in India."

Pat Horn commented today "The NASVI campaign for the adoption of a Central Law in India is an integral part of the StreetNet’s New Manifesto campaign.  If the Law in India is passed, it will be a significant precedent for many other countries around the world, who are considering a review of their own legal frameworks and policies towards street vendors. We are requesting all our affiliates to send letters of support to put pressure on the Government of India to ensure the best outcomes for vendors in India- and indeed for all street vendors!"

Argentina: Vendors’ organisations negotiate successful outcomes at La Salada Market in Buenos Aires

After almost two years of careful negotiations with the local Municipality of Lomas de Zamora, almost 8000 stalls on the outskirts of  La Salada market were dismantled and moved some 500 metres away.

“This is not an eviction, it is a transfer and we have managed to negotiate work continuity and social inclusion for those affected,” explained Oscar Silva, President of SIVARA (Trade Union of Autonomous Vendors of the Republic of Argentina) and also President of StreetNet International.

The vendors will be installed in a temporary covered area while new permanent installations, which will have electricity, water and sanitation and shower facilities, are completed.

The site where Feria La Ribera market was set up some years back is right by the side of a  river, and apart from completing blocking the route for traffic during market days, was accessed by an old and rusting metal bridge which posed a serious risk.

“Without a negotiated solution, we could not have managed to carry out this transfer in a peaceful manner.  We have the police force here – but they are not armed,” commented Juan Jose Mussi, Chief of ACUMAR, the government environmental agency.

Over the last few months, the National Chamber of Commerce (CAME) has been carrying out a ferocious campaign against the new market, claiming it was an extravagant misuse of taxpayers’ money and calling for the repeal of the law which permits street vending.

“In fact, the CAME campaign has turned against them as it highlighted the problems facing street vendors.  Now we have been able to negotiate permits for 15 more new markets so that our affiliates will finally be able to work in dignity.  However, the struggle has not ended as CAME continues to call for the eradication of street vending.  We have a very busy year ahead of us!”, Oscar Silva added.

This peaceful transfer contrasts starkly with the scenes of brutal police tactics to clear the streets in La Bras market in the centre of Sao Paolo, Brazil,  a few months earlier.

http://streetnet-campaigns.blogspot.com/2012/01/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none.html