Street Vendor members of CNTS and SUDEMS in Senegal initiate Union Caravan project

18 September 2012

A regional caravan in the West African economic region departed from Senegal on the 9 September, led by StreetNet`s Senegalese affiliates CNTS Women`s Committee and SUDEMS. They will be passing through Gambia, Guinea, Cote d`Ivoire, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Mali until the 14th October. A second caravan will leave on the 10th November and they will go through Mauritania, Morocco Spain and Portugal until the 9 December 2012.

The importance of this initiative is to participate in a new style of international trade and create an awareness of Senegalese products. Their focus will be Street Vendors and Traders from the Agro industry, Fishing and farming trade and crafts and inter-acting with locals from the places visited by the caravan.

Other goals are to:

  • Create awareness StreetNet in the ECOWAS region so that links can be strengthened between StreetNet affiliated street vendors from Senegal and their comrades from countries in the sub – region.
  • Opportunity to meet new people and learn about their culture and way of living and vice versa,
  • Signing of exchange and trade contract between CNTS/SUDEMS and street vendors in the sub – region,
  • To contribute positively and serve as example of international trade,
  • To bring back products from these countries which are needed by the Senegalese population.
  • To mobilise, persuade and recruit the maximum of vendors for StreetNet and for the expansion of unions in visited countries

CNTS and SUDEMS encourage people to visit the Caravan as they pass through the towns. StreetNet will also be posting messages of support through their Facebook page and wishes CNTS and SUDEMS a good successful trip!

StreetNet International , trade union and social partners call on Mayoral Candidates in the World Cup Host Cities to score a goal for Brazil by creating decent work opportunities for street vendors

10 September 2012

With one month to go before the Mayoral elections in Brazil, StreetNet International, trade union and social partners have written to 84 candidates in the host cities to call upon them to score a goal for their country by creating decent work opportunities for street vendors.

The letter is signed by the United Trade Union Centre (CUT) , the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA/CSA), the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), the General Union of Workers , and the Popular Committees of those Affected by the World Cup, together with StreetNet International.

“We argue that FIFA, the Local Organising Committee and the Host Cities should recognise their responsibility for the potential negative impact of the World Cup on the livelihoods of street vendors. Now is the moment to think again and act differently." said Vagner Freias de Moraes, President of the United Centre of Workers.

“Brazil still has time to construct a World Cup based on social inclusion and not the profits of FIFA and its commercial partners. Bur for that it is necessary to ensure decent working conditions for all who are involved in the building of the World Cup, respecting human rights and developing a sense of citizenship, not restricting rights,"said Victor Baes Mosquiera, General Secretary of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas.

“This is a real opportunity for Mayoral candidates to re-think urban policies for the poor. Instead of treating street vendors as quasi-criminals, it is possible to include street vendors in the trading opportunities offered by the World Cup and provide longer-term solutions to improve their livelihoods,"said Nora Wintour, StreetNet International Campaigns Coordinator.

“We have written to the candidates asking them to make a public pledge that they will work towards creating decent work for all workers, including street vendors,"said Nilton Freitas, Regional Representative of the Building and Wood Workers International.

The proposals in the letter include the following:

(1) that the municipal authorities use existing or establish new bargaining forums to dialogue with the representative organisations of all the informal vendors in the different host cities;
(2) 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. 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.
(3) that appropriate alternatives for informal trade in each municipality are developed in
a consultative manner; these trading sites should be conceived as long-term solutions; they should be operational 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.

The letter concludes:

“We believe that as a candidate for the position of Mayor, you have an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put your city on the world map. By developing policies of social inclusion, respect for human rights and decent work, you can provide a global example of a sustainable World Cup legacy and pave the way for others to follow.
We urge you to support these positions through making a public written commitment to working with us to achieve these goals – goals that go far beyond football and that can become part of the proud history of a nation.”

To read the complete letter, please click here:

For more information contact:
Maira Vanucchi, StreetNet WCCA Campaigns Coordinator, Rio de Janeiro at:
Tel:0055-11- 911 86558
Nora Wintour, StreetNet WCCA Campaigns Coordinator, StreetNet International, Durban
Sharon Pillay, Media and Communications officer, StreetNet International, Durban

Monday mass meeting of evicted pinafore-vendors demand response from eThekwini Mayor and City Manager

10 September 2012

Homeless: Cindy Chiliza, one of the informal traders who lived on the property. She had lost all five machines, all her stock and everything that was in her home. She depends on her trade as she is the breadwinner and supports her family which includes her siblings, her child and her motherOn Monday, 10th September at 9 a.m. four hundred and thirty (430) determined self-employed pinafore-makers and informal traders convened a mass meeting at 126 Alice Street. It is the the site where they were forcibly evicted from their workplace on Saturday by Durban Metro Police, on the instructions of the Business Support Unit of the eThekwini Municipality. The traders called on the Mayor, James Nxumalo, and new City Manager S`bu Sithole to meet them after discussing what strategy and tactics to proceed to employ to get the eThekwini municipality to respond to their demands, which include the following:

1. Urgent allocation of a building to work in (since Saturday`s eviction from the building they had occupied – where their remaining machinery and equipment is)
2. Appointment of a woman at the Business Support Unit of the eThekwini Municipality to head women`s issues affecting women informal traders;
3. Support for those who lost their machinery and equipment in a fire last week;
4. Suitable and affordable space to sell their pinafores in flea markets.

The previous Saturday afternoon a fire had swept through the Phezulu Lodge building in Umgeni Road which was occupied by pinafore-makers, and much of their stock was destroyed. The cause of the fire is unknown. It is estimated that close to 30-40 workers who depend on their trade as a livelihood have lost their goods and equipment in the fire. Most of the traders were renting these premises, where they produced their pinafore dresses and other items in sweatshop-like conditions, and sold them behind Berea Station, at flea markets, and wherever they can.

The burnt remains of the building which was once used by the tradersAn upset Sylvia Khubone said that people were lucky to escape from the burning building, as most of the property is surrounded by electric fences except one gate. “Everything I have owned has been burnt. We don’t know where to start re-building what we lost and we don’t even have a place to go,” she said.

On the 7th August the pinafore-vendors had marched against the exorbitant prices they were charged by the Business Support Unit of the municipality, and presented a memorandum of their grievances, including a demand for the municipality to allocate an unused building to them. However, no word has been forthcoming from the municipality.

After unsuccessful attempts to get the municipality to respond to their demand for the use of the unused building, including a meeting with staff from the Mayor’s office in the city hall, 430 women pinafore-makers occupied a building at 126 Alice Street on Wednesday 5th September, moved their equipment in and re-started work. On Friday 7th September, Councillor Themba Duma, himself formerly an informal trader, attempted to get the women to leave the building – but they said they would only leave the building once they were given another building which they could use instead – something he was apparently not able to offer them.

The traders settling in the temporary building before being evictedOn Saturday 8th September police arrived to forcibly eject the women. Mzwandile Mavula, Secretary of the Ubumbano Traders Association to which the pinafore- vendors are affiliated, reports that the police used unacceptable levels of violence to force the women out. He and 4 men and 8 women (including pinafore-makers and a lawyer) were subsequently arrested at the scene. They were taken to CR Swart Square, and then released on warning after the Charge Office was besieged by enquiries from supporters, the Legal Resources Centre and StreetNet International, to which Ubumbano Traders Alliance is affiliated.

About 100 evicted pinafore-sellers then gathered outside the Durban City Hall where they agreed to reconvene in a mass meeting at 126 Alice Street, the venue from which they were evicted, at 9 a.m. on Monday 10th September.

Pat Horn, StreetNet International Coordinator, commented “We are hoping that the eThekwini Mayor and City Manager are going to recognise the urgency of addressing the work situation of these 430 pinafore-makers who have lost their livelihoods while waiting for the Municipality to respond to their demands presented after their march on the 7th August. These women are supporting large numbers of dependants – and have the same right to Decent Work as workers in the formal sector, which in this case the Municipality is in the best position to assist them to attain. We strongly recommend that the Municipality put in place a negotiations process with the committee elected by the pinafore-vendors as soon as possible.”

Union Cabinet Approves Street Vendors` Bill in India

27 August 2012

The much awaited central law to protect the livelihood and social security rights of more than 10 million street vendors became a reality with the Union Cabinet on Friday, August 17 were the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012 was approved. The Bill would now be placed in the Parliament for enactment.

Once enacted, the central law would prevail over all state municipal laws as well as police acts to the extent that they are inconsistent with the law for street vendors. It also would do away with the existing license system that has become a tool to victimize and harass the street vendors in almost all municipal areas in the country.

As per the Bill to be tabled in the Parliament, anyone over 18 years can apply and register as street vendor with respective Town Vending Committee (TVC) by making a payment of a one-time fee. Once registered, they will be given identity cards entitling them to sell their wares in specified vending zones.

The decision of making vending zones would be taken up by the respective TVC. Every TVC would have at least 40 per cent members from the street vendors (one-third of which shall be women vendors). Besides, the Bill contains provisions to protect and promote natural markets, weekly markets and night bazaars where vendors and hawkers can sell their wares.

The proposed legislation also has clear provisions for grievance redressal and transparency. The laid out provisions and mechanisms protect vendors from confiscation of their goods and forced eviction by authorities. An arrangement of appellate system also has been put in the proposed law wherein local authorities have been empowered to set up a permanent committee consisting of a person who has been a sub-judge or a judicial magistrate to redress vendors` grievances.

National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), which has long been struggling for such a central law for protection of right to livelihood and social security of street vendors, has hailed the Cabinet clearing the Draft Bill prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA). In fact, last day NASVI had given a call to organize nationwide protests on 18 August demanding early cabinet approval to the Bill and sent a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his time on 18 August.

Appreciating the fast legislative process, NASVI national coordinator Arbind Singh said,” We have been struggling for a comprehensive central law in favour of street vendors since 2009. In October, 2010, the Supreme Court verdict also justified our demand and the government was directed to convert the National Policy for Urban Street Vendors into a law as the policy has not been able to ensure the fundamental right to livelihood of street vendors. Post- Supreme Court verdict, the street vendors indeed struggled a lot to get Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation convinced on the critical necessity of central law.”

“We organised vendors to come on to the street in several cities in 2011 and approached the National Advisory Council (NAC), Prime Minister and UPA Chairperson for getting a central law. We also contacted several Members of Parliament and urged them to write to the Prime Minister. We even prepared a Model Draft Bill and shared it with the NAC and the MHUPA,” said Mr. Singh.
He urged all political parties to wholeheartedly support the Bill in the upcoming session of Parliament and hoped that the much awaited central law would soon be a reality.

Ladysmith informal traders unite to resist forced removal of street barbers to flood prone area without alternatives or negotiation

16 August 2012

An ongoing battle since 2009 between the Ladysmith Municipality and Street Vendors led to street traders embarking on a protest march on the 7th August 2012 for harassment, forceful evictions by the police and lack of service delivery. A memorandum was handed to the Office of the MEC of Local Governance Nomusa Dube, as the street traders claim they no longer trust the co-operation of their local municipality.

Zama Zondi from the Informal Trade Support Services (ITSS) organisation representing the street barbers as well as other informal traders in Ladysmith commented that the municipality started violating the rights of the street vendors just after the MEC and Premier`s announcement that Ladysmith should be funded under the upliftment programme in KZN’s small towns.

The street vendors in Ladysmith have been trading for 16 years. “The municipal manager, Mr Madoda Khathide and the officials made an erroneous decision to put up a structure for the street vendors to trade in the flood prone area, which is on the banks of the Klip River. They had not even consulted the people concerned,” he said.

A protest march was held recently by the Street vendors to bring attention to the harassment, forceful evictions by the police and lack of service delivery

Zondi continued to quote the ANC’s freedom charter which asserts that people should have freedom of choice. "One cannot exercise the apartheid regime to poor people who have no power to free themselves from oppression. We have made an appeal to the MEC for intervention as the situation is very tense as the moment. The people are frustrated that they are not being listened to. Their trading shacks get mysteriously burnt down on numerous occasions where there is no known cause of the fire. The traders in Lyell Street as well in Macksons are forced to vacate their homes, and are reluctant to move to an area where they are susceptible to flooding. The municipality and the officials continue to harass them."

The street vendors, particularly the hairdressers, were given a short notice to vacate the premises, after refusing repeated requests to meet ITSS. The street vendors are in the process of opening a case. Advocate Rev G.S.T Radebe, who is assisting ITSS on a pro bono basis, wrote to the municipality on 22 June, about the sensitivity of the matter involving land and the imbalances of the past which have not been addressed – including forced removals. In a second letter sent on 14 August requesting a meeting between the municipality and the street traders, and a temporary moratorium, have been met with no response.

The struggles of ITSS and the other street traders` organisations are supported by the Ubumbano Trader Alliance in Durban. Mzwandile Mavula, Secretary for Ubumbano, said that their organisation together with StreetNet International (to which Ubumbano is affiliated), which broadens, networks and represents over 500 000 informal traders through national and international structures, is monitoring the situation – especially around the 20 August, the date of the threatened eviction. “We think it is shameful that in a democratic country, people still resort to apartheid scare tactics and prey on the poor whose trade is their only means to survival.”

Pat Horn, International Co-ordinator, stated that StreetNet`s message to the Ladysmith municipality is to urgently convene a meeting with the representative organisations of the street traders (including street barbers) to find a resolution to this problem in the spirit of social dialogue. If they do not do this, they are likely to meet the united resistance of organised street vendors in the whole KwaZulu-Natal Province and the whole country – as informal traders across all 9 provinces are currently uniting for the launch of a national alliance of street vendors early in 2013, to strengthen their united voice to and intensify their struggles against poverty and injustice.

Women pinafore-sellers and informal traders protest against EThekwini Municipality for fair trading rights

8 August 2012

The protestors on their way to the Durban City Hall, led by the Ubumbano Traders AllianceCommemorating Women`s Day, a march was held this Tuesday, against the City Council. This was done to speak out against the exorbitant prices charged by private business owners and to protest the rights of the informal traders. There is a call for the municipality to provide Street Vendors a decent place to trade as they also have trade permits.

The march had started from Botha`s Garden and then proceeded to the City Hall, where a memorandum was given to the office of the Mayor. The march mostly consisted of the women pinafore-traders, supported by Ubumbano Traders Alliance (Ubumbano) and StreetNet (to which Ubumbano is affiliated), a worker organisation that broadens, networks and represents their members through national and international structures.

Ubumbano has been formed in order to coordinate the representation of informal traders and provide a channel through which different traders` organisations and representative structures may collectively represent the interests of informal traders in Durban.

The crowd of protestors intently listening to the struggles of their fellow colleaguesMazwandile Mavula, Secretary for Ubumbano and Convenor for this event, commented that the rent charged for the Street vendors to sell in the flea market is too high. “If you look at the women pinafore-sellers on the south side, I have been told they are charged between R1 000 – R1 200 a month. It sometimes can be more, depends on what they negotiate with the private business owners. Some would have to pay for the electricity as a separate expense and they also work in small rooms were buildings are old and not maintained. They are allowed to sell their goods on Sundays only. This means they are not taking much money home. Many of the women are single mothers who are the main bread winners” he said.

Mavula commented that this issue with the municipality has been ongoing on since 2008. “There are also select places in the CBD that are unoccupied and can be used. We are having this march in hopes to bring awareness to this issue as government needs to cater for the informal traders whose livelihoods depend on their trade.” he said.

The protestors braved the rain and bad weather conditions to attend this march so their voices would be heard Other issues that surfaced were the need for the municipality to have proper procedures in place to help Street vendors to purchase their trade permits. Many of them don`t know where to get them from. According to the protestors the municipality has a Street Committee along each road, where they assist traders to get their permits.

Margaret Shange has been a Street Vendor for 10 years and works as a dressmaker. She complained that the municipality has no regulations in place for the Street Committee as there are allegations of corruption in some of the places. “It costs R480 to obtain a trade permit that has to be renewed every six months. The Street Committee who I have to go to charges us R2 000 every time we have to renew it. It is against the law as they pocket the extra money. It is sadly a common problem. Many of us don`t have that kind of money. When we complain to the municipality they don`t hear is and send us back to the Street Committee. When we are unable to produce our trade permits, we are evicted by the police. It is not fair as already we have high rent expenses to pay. We need a proper place to trade. I am a single mother and I work 7 days a week just to try put food on the table for my family. I hope that we will be heard this time,” she said.

On their way to Durban City Hall“StreetNet, jointly with Ubumbano, has asked the new City Manager for a meeting to discuss the many problems of street vendor regulation in Durban which the Council under previous City Manager Mike Sutcliffe failed to address ever since they abandoned the implementation of the inclusive Informal Trade Policy adopted by the City in 2002. Certainly we will also add the problems of the pinafore-sellers to the agenda for that meeting, “added Pat Horn, International Co-ordinator for StreetNet.

Tanzania`s White elephant – When will we ever learn?

30 July 2012

The Dar es Salaam city authorities built the Machinga Business Complex with a loan from an investment bank, reputably worth 71 million USD. It was designed as a centre for small businesses. It is a disastrous white elephant – 3 large 5 storey buildings with cage like stalls in narrow ranks. Apart from the outside stalls on the ground floor, with some suitcases and kanga cloth traders, it is virtually empty. It was inaugurated 2 years ago and is based on a Chinese design.

Machinga Business Complex Narrow unattactive spacing - No one will go there to buy our goods! Unoccupied stalls in Machinga

Across the football pitch on the other side stands the real market for local kanga cloths – there is a dirt floor, leaking corrugated iron roofing and the stalls are wooden self-constructed benches. There is no storage space so the traders rent places in nearby houses. Business is good and many cooperative members are able to pay for school fees for their children from the sales. The kanga cooperative has 200 members and democratically elects its council every year.

The co operative President and TUICO(Tanzanian Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers) Branch Secretary, Anton, commented that they were never consulted about the new market. “It is very expensive – they are charging Tz$ 60,000 per month and the stalls are much too small – it doesn`t suit our needs and no customer is going to climb up the stairs to buy cloth from us there.” he said

Others had commented that they need to change the design of the stalls and to get better public transport that goes to the building premises.

A bit further away is the ILala second-hand clothes market and vegetable market. The cooperative members there are also members of TUICO and give the same story – “We can`t move there because it is much too expensive – here we are charged $200 per day. People don`t want to carry heavy loads of clothing upstairs like that -and there is no transport. This market is here because it is near the out-of-town buses and the sellers can arrive easily and take their goods to the buses easily.”

Behind the second-hand clothes stall is an informal fruit and vegetable market. Representatives of TUICO and StreetNet met the Chawana coconut sellers cooperative, also a member of TUICO, and the vegetable sellers cooperative, who complained about being harassed by the officials. “We used to work around the main central market at Kariakoo. But then the police drove us away so we came here. We are only allowed to trade between 6am-10 am. When the police blow the whistle, it is time for us to leave. We try and push for longer, we want to trade all day. And the police are often not correct- they should charge us Tz$ 200 every day but sometimes they can ask for more- up to Tz$ 1000 or else they will take our goods. Here the police make things very hard for the street vendors,” one of the avocado sellers explained.

“It is sad to think what benefits there might have been for the over 50,000 street and market vendors in Dar if they had been consulted about their needs before investing in a building that no one wants nor uses. Would that the city authorities had listened, as StreetNet slogan says: “Nothing for us, without us!” commented Nora Wintour, Campaigns Coordinator of StreetNet.

New manifesto campaign to help improve working conditions of Street Vendors

13 July 2012

TUICO leaders and charcoal traders at Tabata MarketThe StreetNet affiliate, the Tanzanian Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO) has started to implement the New Manifesto campaign. The organisation has drafted a new policy on informal economy workers and set up a 10-person task force on the informal economy. TUICO has identified 12 markets which will be surveyed for the New Manifesto and will then compile the results and validate them in a workshop. The New Manifesto of Tanzania will then be published and distributed to TUICO Branches, local authorities and MPs. The campaign will culminate in a march in the centre of Dar-es-Salaam, when the New Manifesto will be handed over to senior members of government. The task force will monitor and follow up on the implementation of the demands in the New Manifesto.

“TUICO will assist its members in Tabata market to find a solution too many of the problems they are facing. The traders pay a daily tax to the ward but they get no services in return. Indeed, only recently the charcoal sellers have been issued notice that they must vacate their site on July 23rd but they have not been offered an alternative site. Is that fair?” asked Majura Jones, Assistant General Secretary of TUICO.

Tabata market tradersHe stated that there are too many situations when traders are subjected to arbitrary treatment and their contribution to the national economy is neither recognised nor valued. “For instance, at ILala market, the coconut and vegetable sellers can only trade between 6am -10 am. Once the police blow the whistle, they are meant to pack up and leave. We think the New Manifesto campaign can highlight these situations and set a new agenda for improving the working environment of street and market vendors. It would also help street vendors to defend themselves against situations of police harassment and other forms of abuse,” he concluded.

Chairwoman from FTUEU injured during a Law on Language protest in Kyiv

Ms Valyntyna Korobka, Chairwoman of Free Trade Union of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine (FTUEU)Ms Valyntyna Korobka, Chairwoman of Free Trade Union of Entrepreneurs of Ukraine (FTUEU) was elected at the Founding conference of the FTUEU based on her history of activism and her desire for justice.

On the 3 July 2012, Ukrainian Parliament adopted a Law “On languages” which was the main cause for members of opposition parties to start a protest action and hunger strike in front of Ukrainian house.

Ms Valentyna Korobka, a patriot of her country joined the protest to express her dissatisfaction regarding this Law. On the 4 July 2012, a clash between protesters and special security subdivision “Berkut” took place close to Ukrainian house in the centre of Kyiv City were they opposed the recently adopted Law on Languages.

During the incident, Ms Valentyna Korobka was injured when she was allegedly pushed by a Lieutenant Colonel of the Traffic Auto Inspection. Ms Korobka fell on the pavement sustaining injuries to her head and seriously bruised her arm. She was taken to the Kyiv local hospital and after examination doctors diagnosed that she had a concussion. Ms Korobka is recovering at the hospital. It has been learned from sources that the Lieutenant Colonel of Traffic Auto Inspection has been allegedly hospitalised after this incident and a case has been opened regarding this incident.

According to FTUEU, there is has been no response from the Ukrainian Government or from the Parliament related to the Law on Languages but officials have stated the Law on Languages would be signed.

FTUEU started its existence after small and medium entrepreneurs went to protest action to oppose a Tax Code in November 2010. Since then FTUEU plays a key role to protect entrepreneurs and self-employed workers’ rights both within Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine(KVPU) and nationwide. FTUEU organised numerous protest actions and demonstrations to resist adoption of harmful legislation and to obtain the norms and standards.

In June 2012, FTUEU became a member of StreetNet which has helped them to be represented by StreetNet at a national and an international level.

Ms Korobka, described as an enthusiastic unionist, participates in all the protest actions organised not only by the FTUEU or KVPU, but also by other democratic NGOs who fight for justice for the laws and rights to be followed and not violated in Ukraine.