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.

ZCIEA loses two of their members in a tragic accident

The late Benjamin Moyo
The late Beauty MugijimaThe Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) 1st Deputy President, Mrs Beauty Mugijima and National Information and Publicity Officer Mr Benjamin Muvhami Moyo passed away on the 4th June when their vehicle was involved in a head on collision with a haulage truck along Harare – Masvingo road in Zimbabwe. The accident occurred when a haulage truck swerved from its lane and rammed into their vehicle while trying to avoid hitting a stationery tractor.

Beauty and Ben were returning from Masvingo where they had attended a Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINACO) meeting where they were both Board members.

The two were part of the architects and instrumental founding members in the formation of ZCIEA. Mrs Mugijima was at the helm of ZCIEA at its inception in 2002. They have been pillars of ZCIEA from the inception until the time of their death. Their efforts made ZCIEA to be known internationally and in higher offices because they knocked on every office which they felt needed to hear their voice. They helped in the formation of housing cooperatives for the informal sector associations` country wide and lobbied councils for low cost houses for the poor majority.

ZCIEA has truly lost a hero and heroine. Beauty Mugijima was currently the treasurer at StreetNet. StreetNet is saddened by this sudden tragedy and offers their deep condolences to ZCIEA and to the families of our comrades Beauty and Ben.

Benjamin Moyo (far right) with Beauty Mugijima at the ZCIEA offices

Link for News Article: Accident robs ZCIEA of its two members

Street Vendors win appeal over revoked street licenses in São Paulo – Brazil

3 July 2012

Last Wednesday, June 27, the special body of the São Paulo Justice Court, comprising of 25 judges, overturned the injunction of the president of the court, Judge Ivan Sartori, who had revoked all the street vending licenses of São Paulo city, arguing that the street vendors represent a threat to the public order.

The event was the conclusion of a history that starts long way back. The current mayor of São Paulo, since the beginning of his mandate has repealed all the 2200 licenses that existed in the municipality (in the previous administration the number went from 15000 to 2200). With the elections approaching, he decided in the beginning of May to repeal all the licenses remaining. The Gaspar Garcia Human Rights Centre with the public defender Bruno Miragaia filed a public civil action against the decision. The civil action was accepted by the court, and then the president of the court interfered with an injunction forbidding the vendors to return to work.

The Gaspar Garcia and the public defender appealed the decision last Wednesday, the appeal was judged and the decision was favourable. According to the public defender Bruno Miragaia, the action taken by the judges restores the rule of law in the city.

The trial has mobilised hundreds of vendors – many of them disabled – from all regions of São Paulo, them stood vigil in front of the Court, in the centre of the city. According to those present, described being overwhelmed when the decision was announced. Over thousand vendors celebrated by singing the national anthem, crying, speaking words about the people power and hugging each other.

The lawyer from Gapar Garcia Centre, Juliana Avanci said that the decision shows that the judiciary power understood that is necessary to interfere in policies from the executive power that threaten the rights of the workers and dwellers of the city

STREETNET addresses the adversities faced by informal workers and their rights at International Labour Conference

11 June 2012

StreetNet, an international federation of 48 organisations of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Eastern Europe, representing 501 178 paid-up members, wishes to acknowledge work done by the ILO to promote policies for decent work, including in relation to workers in the informal economy, since the adoption of the Conclusions on Decent Work and the Informal Economy at the 90th session of the International Labour Conference in 2002.

Souley ZeinabouSouley Zeinabou, StreetNet international Council member from FENASEIN in Niger addressed the plenary sitting of 101st session of ILO’s International Labour Conference. Various issues were highlighted.

Accordingly, StreetNet has participated in the Committee on Migrant Workers in the Global Economy in the 92nd session of the Conference in 2004, the Committee on the Employment Relationship in the 95th session in 2006, the Committee on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work in the 99th session in 2010, and the Committee on Social Protection Floors for Social Justice and a Fair Globalisation in this 101st session of the Conference in 2012. At national level, StreetNet encourages its affiliate organisations of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to participate in the Decent Work Country programmes to ensure a substantial element of work in relation to workers in the informal economy.

StreetNet’s approach is underlined by the promotion of a process of formalisation from informal to formal work defined by workers from different sectors of the informal economy, as follows:

  • Recognition in law of workers in the informal economy;
  • Integration of indirect taxes and other revenues already paid by informal workers into official tax systems (in accordance with the principle of progressive taxation);
  • Extension of social security to all;
  • Statutory negotiating forums, including at local government level;
  • Participatory budgeting, at both national and local government level;
  • Formalisation into genuine worker-controlled cooperatives;
  • Transformation of the informal economy into social solidarity economy.

StreetNet would like to congratulate the Director-General on the rapid response of the ILO to the call of the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation and the Global Jobs Pact of 2009 by immediately working on a Recommendation on Social Protection Floors which we anticipate being adopted at this 101st session of the International Labour Conference. We believe that this will go a long way to "preventing or alleviating poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion" as experienced on a daily basis by workers in the informal economy worldwide.

StreetNet wishes to draw to the attention of Members of this organisation to the role that local governments would need to embrace in implementation of programmes for effective extension of decent work and social protection to workers in the informal economy. We urge governments to bring their local government authorities into their Decent Work Country Programmes and Social Protection Floors programmes as a matter of urgency, and to:

  • encourage them to adopt Local Economic Development strategies promoting retention of work and existing livelihoods, and promoting innovative local social protection schemes;
  • sensitise them about the negative long and medium-term consequences of any short-term measure which has the effect (albeit unintentional) of destroying livelihoods, especially of the most vulnerable workers, while attempting to achieve social inclusion;
  • urge them to engage in extensive and effective social dialogue with objective of:
  • being fully accountable to their civil society constituents;
  • improving levels of transparency about development decisions involving public assets;
  • engaging the participation of the most vulnerable workers in the solutions at local and government level

Such social dialogue should complement other levels of collective bargaining and social dialogue (i.e. bipartite, tripartite, multi-partite, national and international) with all social partners, including organized informal economy workers. StreetNet’s participation in this discussion is in response to the strong message of our members who have been excluded for so long from inclusive policies and processes: "Nothing for us without us!"

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

StreetNet International Council gives full support to May 31st protest of Sao Paolo street vendors

26 May 2012, Bogota

The StreetNet International Council, meeting in Bogota, on May 26th 2012, has been informed that the Municipal Authorities in Sao Paulo Brazil have taken the drastic decision to prohibit street vending.

On Saturday, May 19, Mayor Gilberto Kassab revoked a municipal decree of 1997 that authorized street vending in Sao Paolo. Over 1000 existing licenses issued to vendors have been revoked, and vendors told to vacate the pavements. In October last year, the Municipality sent police to destroy street vendors` stalls in the central district of Sao Paolo and there have been many other recent incidents of police violence and abuse.

There are over 100,000 street vendors in Sao Paolo although the great majority are currently working without licenses.

Street vendors` organisations from all over the city are planning a mass protest on May 31st, together with other workers` organisations, human rights organisations and civil society organisations.  In addition, the Public Attorney and the StreetNet partner in Brazil, the Gaspar Garcia Centre for Human Rights will file a legal suit against this decree.

StreetNet International sends its full solidarity and support to the street vendors` organisations of Sao Paolo and will work together with its partners in Brazil and with WIEGO in order to send a letter of protest to the Brazilian authorities, and other appropriate bodies.

Oscar Roberto Silva President SIVARA
Beauty Mugijima Treasurer ZCIEA
Souley Zeinabou Council Member FENASEIN
Mamadou Fall Council Member SUDEMS
Madeleine Tounkara Council Member CNTG
Fundile Jalile Council Member ECSVA
South Africa
Fandy Clarisse Gnahoui Council Member USYNVEPID
Neupane Narayan Prasad Council Member NEST
Fatoumata Bintou Yafa Council Member CNTS
Patricia Horn International Coordinator STREETNET INTERNATIONAL  
Ester Nabawa Affiliate MUFIS Malawi  
 Matseliso Jacintha Lerotholi Affiliate Khatang Thema
Zada Foumakoye  Affiliate UGSEIN
Jose Manuel Ubisse Affiliate ASSOTSI
Natalia Cera Brea Affiliate UPTA
Solange Hazoume Affiliate SYNAVAMAB
Salvador Lara Diaz   FOTSSIEH
Pedro Luis Ramirez Barbosa Affiliate UGTI Colombia  

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;