Blowing the whistle

StreetNet International held a campaigns meeting in cooperation with the United Workers Centre (CUT) Colombia and the General Union of Informal Workers (UGTI) in Bogota, Colombia on 21st May.  The meeting agreed to give their full support for the letter sent to FIFA, written by the CUT-Brazil, StreetNet and the Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights, calling on FIFA to respect the rights of street vendors. They also agreed that each organisation would send a copy of the letter to FIFA to their respective National Federations of Football and to call for a meeting to put forward their concerns.  During the meeting, the participants looked at the Solidar website, and were invited to sign the petition against FIFA.  They also blew the whistle at Sepp Blatter! We think that the whistling was so loud it must have been heard in Zurich!

There were 17 organisations present at the meeting, from 13 countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia.   

The demands to FIFA are:

  • That FIFA encourages the municipal authorities to use existing or establish new bargaining forums to dialogue with the representative organisations of all the informal workers in the host cities;
  • That within the Fan Miles around the Stadiums and in the Fan Parks, 50% of the stands are reserved for local informal traders who sell typical handicrafts, food and drink from the region.
  • That appropriate for informal trade in each municipality are developed in a consultative manner;

Joburg refuses moratorium on confiscation of Street Traders` stock

In a meeting held last week Friday, Senior Johannesburg Metro Police Officer, who reluctantly gave his name as Isaac Peter Dlepho refused to have a moratorium on confiscation of street traders possessions as requested by SANTRA.

Xolani Nxumalo, head of the informal trading management unit then questioned the presence of a legal team and other persons called in by SANTRA to monitor proceedings and provide technical support . After a heated exchange, SANTRA representatives as well as the legal team consisting of Mical Johnson and Mohummed Khan of EVERSHEDS ATTONEYS and Tebogo Sewapa of THE LAW REVIEW PROJECT left the meeting,

SANTRA`S RESPONSE:

"SANTRA will not be dictated to by The City of Johannesburg as to who should or should not be part of its delegation in dealing with a critical matter of this nature, particularly in the light of widespread allegations of brutality, abuse, plundering and looting by JMPD members.

Panic has set in: Municipal officials, blatantly guilty of non delivery are desperately moving into "crisis management mode" and do not wish their conduct to be monitored by "outsiders".

We ask where is Johannesburg street trader management in place? There answer is that they have none.

Where is the millions of Rand worth of confiscated non- perishables taken from the poor in the guise of "law enforcement over the past 10 years? There was no response to that question.

It will not be possible for these officials to manipulate SANTRA into a controlled negotiation process with them choosing who should be represented on our side of the table.

We made the request for a moratorium. We choose who speaks on our behalf. At the present time we will continue our public debate, exposing all aspects of Johannesburg`s failed informal trading policy as well as non delivery by a team of costly municipal officials who are delivering very little, other than plundering and looting the possessions of the poor.

The Johannesburg informal trading fiasco could be as widespread as the billing crisis, the only difference is that poor people and not resourced ratepayers are affected. The "can of worms" is slowly opening. Traders are scared to talk for fear of reprisals. WE ARE NOT."

For more information, please call Edmund Elias on 072 157 2481/072 570 2200

International Workers Day and the Plight of Informal Workers

Vendors at traffic lights and on the streets working hard to earn their daily living
Above: Vendors at traffic lights and on the streets working hard to earn their daily living

International Workers’ Day, the First of May, is a celebration of the Global Workers’ Movement. For other work sectors, it is a day for the struggle for rights which have yet to be obtained eg street vendors or self-employed workers live and work under precarious conditions.

In Nicaragua, while thousands of workers in state and private industry celebrate the first of May as a holiday, there are workers who work on this day because they view the celebrations as an opportunity to sell a wide variety of products.

These workers are called street vendors, a term which signifies workers who move from one place to another without necessarily working at a fixed place. The majority of the trade of street vendors is carried out by a single person. Some sell from covered stalls, others sell in the open air, some seated next to a basket or blanket where they display their merchandise. Thousands of poor people cannot afford the luxury of buying goods in shops, and acquire goods at the low prices offered by street vendors. 

EVERY WORKING DAY IS A DAY OF STRUGGLE FOR INFORMAL WORKERS

Pictured above left is a Hawker and on the right is Street Vendor who form part of the informal sector
Pictured above left is a Hawker and on the right is Street Vendor who form part of the informal sector

To work as street vendors is the only alternative for thousands of people in the world to whom neither the State nor private enterprise offers work opportunities, a result of neoliberal policies imposed on countries like Nicaragua by the international financiers such as the IMF and the World Bank.

The life of a street vendor is a relentless struggle. The majority have to battle on the streets even on rest days to survive. For these workers there is not much to celebrate on the first of May.

The greatest attainment of this heroic deed in Chicago, United States, was the eight hour working day. Street traders in general exceed 10 hours, subjected to the inclemency of the weather.

The informal worker is invisible to some, but plays and important role as a distribution channel, even for large companies.

During this time when self-employed citizens are surpassing those employed in the traditional sector, they are also demanding respect for their human and working rights.

If street vendors are asked “what do you require to overcome your problems?”, the answers received would be the following:

  • Access to credit
  • Access to education for their children
  • Access to health care
  • Access to social security
  • Permission to work without persecution from the authorities and not to be removed from public areas where they have found the only alternative honourable occupation in which they can earn a living.

These, amongst others, are the demands of self-employed workers in Nicaragua and in the world. Self-employed workers are the majority in the cities and in the rural areas, they produce a major portion of wealth and employment. Only by acting in a united and organised form in a common front can they achieve recognition of their human and labour rights, and achieve decent lives and work. Only then will they fully celebrate the first of May.

For more information:

Contact
Monica Garzaro Scott, StreetNet Organiser
Email: garzaroscott@gmail.com

Sharon Pillay, Publicity and Media officer
Email: sharonpillay4@yahoo.com

"Protest to be held as Informal traders are forced to contribute a higher percentage of their earnings than formal workers, who earn more" –  FUTRAND

On Tuesday, April 24, it was announced in the press that all informal traders including women over the age of 55, and men over 60, would receive an old-age pension, whether or not they had contributed to Social Security. Without doubt, this is very good news, as it is another right acquired because citizens work and pay taxes due to all the efforts made by our organisation to obtain this recognition.

On the other hand, via a Decree in the National Assembly, article 6 of the Social Security Act has been modified to require that Informal Traders contribute 13% of their declared earnings to the Department of Social Security. We reject this, as the contribution percentage is too high as formal employees contributions consist of  4% from the employee, plus 7% from the employer, which is a total of 11%. We do not understand why they are asking informal traders who earn less to pay much more than the formal employees.We are publicising this new form of discrimination on behalf of this group of workers who so greatly need solidarity and the respect of the authorities, civil society and national and international institutions to obtain better working and retirement conditions.

WE WILL MARCH ON THE 1ST OF MAY TO PROTEST THE MOCKERY AND DISRESPECT TO WHICH WE ARE SUBJECTED BY GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES

For more information:

Contact
Monica Garzaro Scott, StreetNet Organiser
Email: garzaroscott@gmail.com

Sharon Pillay, Publicity and Media officer
Email: sharonpillay4@yahoo.com

"Care about the poor not just the profits" – Informal traders from Brazil urge FIFA

On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, CUT-Brazil, StreetNet International and the Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights calls on FIFA to keep its promise to identify "constructive" approaches to urban trading during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Writing on the occasion of 1st May, StreetNet International, CUT –Brazil and the Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights urge FIFA to keep its promise to identify "constructive" approaches to urban trading during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"Informal traders are workers trying to make an honest living for their families.  FIFA needs to seriously rethink its policy concerning the setting up of exclusion zones around the Stadiums and fan parks, because of its negative impact on some of the most vulnerable of the urban poor," stated  Manoel Messias Melo, Secretary for Work Relations at the CUT National Office.

"FIFA has the power to really change the face of the World Cup in Brazil,’ said Nora Wintour, from StreetNet International. "Will football fans feel good about walking through to the stadium in the knowledge that FIFA was responsible for destroying the livelihoods of local traders? No, they won’t. We’ve been asked to come up with feasible proposals. We’ve put them in writing today," she explained.

"Let FIFA show that this is not just another public relations exercise.  StreetNet carried out an extensive consultation and has identified over 80 informal traders’ organisations in the 12 host cities.  We have some practical proposals about how municipalities can work with the informal traders’ organisations now, during the World Cup and for the longer term. The CUT and the Gaspar Garcia Centre have worked with the vendors’ organisations to develop these demands,’ Nora Wintour added.

Maria from MUCA , leader of a street vendors’ organisation affiliated to the CUT in Rio explained: "We’ve heard what happened to the traders in South Africa.  They told us to organise and demand our right to work during the World Cup. We feel our cause is just. FIFA and all the different levels of government in Brazil should show they care about the poor, not just the profits."

The organisations recommend that:

  • FIFA encourages the municipal authorities to use existing or establish new bargaining forums to dialogue with the representative organisations of all the informal vendors in the different host cities
  • Within the Fan Miles around the Stadiums and in the Fan Parks, 50% of the stands are reserved for local informal traders who sell typical food and drink from the region.  These stands should be allocated to the informal traders through a participatory process as established by the bargaining forums and at affordable prices, giving priority to cooperative or other social economy initiatives of traders who may otherwise lose their trading spaces, whether or not they possess valid licenses
  • Appropriate alternatives for informal trade in each municipality are developed in a consultative manner; these trading sites should be 50% funded by FIFA and be designed as long-term solutions to be in place both during and after the World Cup for ordinary games or events around these stadiums and Fan Miles and Fan Parks, so that there is a social legacy of the World Cup for the informal traders as well

To read the letter to FIFA, please click here…

For more information contact:

Streetnet International
Nora Wintour, Campaigns Coordinator: norawintour@live.co.uk
Maira Vanucchi, StreetNet Consultant Brazil: mairavanuchhi@gmail.com
Sharon Pillay, Media and Publicity Officer: sharonpillay4@yahoo.com

Central Unica dos Trabalhadores
Crystiane Peres CUT National Office: crystiane@cut.org.br

Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights
Luciana Itikawa: luciana.itikawa@gmail.com

Honduras to celebrate International Labour Day

Honduras is preparing to celebrate a unified International Labour Day on May 1.

Various activities will take place before the first of May, coordination meetings, nomination of commissions, manufacturing of mantas, placards alluding to the subject of the celebration and protests against the abuse of human rights, the high cost of living, lack of employment and decent work, criminal activity, corruption, the lack of policies and a law for agricultural transformation and the lack of punishment.

A protest demonstration carried out by the autonomous unions of decentralised institutions such as health, education, ENEE, SANAA and others of great importance and the general strike accompanying the mobilisation called by the three labour unions which exist in the country, on the 19th of April paralysed 90% of the factories, services and autonomous and semi-autonomous institutions in the main cities in the country. It mobilised thousands of workers who demanded the revision of the minimum wages to match the high cost of living, higher wages and respect for human rights and a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform.

The government and its repressive apparatus, police, national armed forces and groups armed by landowners and cattle farmers responded repressively murdering comrades in the Districts of Colon, Cortes and Yoro.

The Government, the national police and the landowners, linked to the recently formed Freedom and Revival Party (LIBRE) promote the struggle for land allegedly owned by large national and international landowners.

At this stage we realise what is about to “happen at the party” as the popular saying goes.

a) The three labour unions CGT, CTH and CUTH have agreed to mobilise throughout the country, placing most importance on the concentration of forces in the main cities, namely Tegucigalpa, the political capital, and San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital of Honduras, which will guarantee national and international mobilisation not seen in Honduras since the seventies.

b) By virtue of selective and massive worsening of repression during April, the various unions and the popular Honduran movement, we propose to organise and mobilise, taking all safety measures and permanent dialogue to prevent and avoid repressive action and bloodshed.

Long Live Workers` Day in Honduras and in the world!

UNITY IS OUR GOAL
FOTSSIEH – CUTH

For more information:

Contact

Monica Garzaro Scott, StreetNet Organiser
Email: garzaroscott@gmail.com

Sharon Pillay, Publicity and Media officer

Email: sharonpillay4@yahoo.com

Cell: +27 72 2577 317

World Class Cities for All Campaign Research Report in Brazil

StreetNet International has published a report about informal traders’ organisations in the 12 host cities of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This report documents the quagmire of conflicting regulations and licenses that informal traders confront and the lack of interest or outright hostility of Municipal authorities towards their situation. “It is apparent that the traders’ situation is deteriorating as municipal authorities try to sweep signs of urban poverty off the streets in preparation for the World Cup’’explained Nora Wintour, Campaigns Coordinator of StreetNet International.

The research was conducted over the period May – October 2011 and was conceived as preliminary step to establishing the World Class Cities for All Campaign (WCCA) in Brazil.

The research was conceived as an “action-research” programme designed to build the capacity of informal traders’ leaders to work together within a national perspective. The researchers used a semi-structured questionnaire to carry out personal interviews with leaders of the street trader organisations. The researchers also interviews social movements, government authorities, NGOs and university departments concerned with urban planning.

The main areas of inquiry include:

  • Legal framework
  • Information about the membership, composition and organizational structure,
  • The gendered nature of the organisation,
  • The political context and allies with which they worked
  • Main demands of the different organisations,
  • The possible impact of the World Cup.

The researchers identified a total of 89 street traders’ organisations in 10 host cities. Most organisations cover specific zones in the city and are registered as associations. There is a marked fragmentation and division among the organisations. The organisations work in a relatively isolated manner at municipal level and have not developed State level coordination structures, let alone a national network

Main Challenges

  • Municipalities are not issuing new licenses to trade in the centres of the host cities. Many street traders are therefore left in a legally precarious situation, the prey to arbitrary treatment and other forms of abuse.
  • Illegality often fosters corruption with street traders’ leaders used by the police and municipal authorities to collect arbitrary payments. Such situations directly affect the capacity of the street traders’ organisations to mobilise ;
  • In some cities, there is an increase in police crackdowns against street traders, including the confiscation of their goods without compensation or return; fines, and on some occasions, there are incidents of physical violence and imprisonment.
  • The majority of traders do not have licenses and their needs are not taken into consideration by the public authorities; and there are often acute divisions between traders who possess licenses and those who do not.

Main Demands

  • The main demand of all the organisations is to have a safe, permanent workplace, with a license, issued by the municipal authorities, whether on the streets or in a popular shopping centre. They want legal and social recognition that they have the right to trade in public spaces in order to earn an income for themselves and their families.

StreetNet International will be writing to all the 12 municipalities, which are World Cup host cities, requesting that they enter into a dialogue with the representative organisations of informal traders with a view to improving existing regulations and providing them with appropriate sites.

The study was carried out by three researchers, Emily de Andrade Costa, Marina Brito and Maira Vanucchi, who counted on technical support from Luciana Itikawa of the Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights and Sonia Dias, WIEGO. The project was coordinated by the StreetNet International campaigns coordinator, Nora Wintour.

For more information contact:

Sharon Pillay
Media and Publicity Officer
sharonpillay4@yahoo.com
+27 72 2577 317

Maira Vanucchi, Brazil
StreetNet Consultant
mairavannuchi@gmail.com

Nora Wintour
StreetNet, Campaigns Coordinator
norawintour@live.co.uk

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.