Informal economy in Georgia: challenges and opportunities

22 July, 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among the main challenges the SCWU is facing are:

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

Miranda Mandaria with SCWU activists while discussing union internal issues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Cruel Treatment Of Street Vendors” In Colombia

20 July 2016

By Pedro Luis Ramirez B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 July, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interviewed by Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

 

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

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

8 July 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

CITY

VENUE

TIME

Cape Town

Kaizergracht Street, District 6

10h00AM

Durban

King Dinizulu Park, Leo Boyd Highway

9h00AM

Port Elizabeth

Corner of Cawood & Goven Mbeki Streets

10h00AM

Polokwane

SABC Park, 19 Sri-Lanka Street

9h00AM

Kimberley

Indian Centre, Stockdale Street

9h00AM

Nelspruit

Mpumalanga Stadium, Ermelo

9h00AM

Bloemfontein

Old Ramkraal Prison, Setshabelo Centre, Dr Belcher Road

9h00AM

Mthatha

46 Jubilee Square Project, Opposite Boxer Store

9h30AM

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

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

For more information contact:

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

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

23 June 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Thematic Meetings issued their Declarations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s make difference together!

Nothing for Us Without Us!

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

By Sibailly M. Douhoure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Representatives of small businesses of Moldova threaten authorities with protest actions

13 June 2016

Natalia Suboci, Chairwoman of Trade Union FederationRepresentatives of small Business Association demand from the authorities to introduce a special (fixed) tax for small businesses and to declare from January 1, 2017 a 10-year moratorium on any changes in legislation which relates to promotion of small businesses. They claimed, in case their demands are not taken into account by the authorities, small entrepreneurs would start protest actions, according to a report of realitatea.md.

"While the issue of importance of the business environment to create jobs and capacity building of tax transfers is being discussed a lot and assertively, the actual state of things has not been changing. Moreover, it is expected that from the beginning of 2017 the activity of more than 40 thousand small (street) traders will not be allowed (according to the Law ? 121 as of 29.05.2008 paragraph 5 of Art. 17 these working places will be eliminated).

The situation in small business sector is already complicated due to the discriminatory economic policies: expensive credit resources, bureaucracy, unfair competition, corruption at all administrative levels, aggressive nepotism and therefore incompetent staff in the ministries and departments", – says Mr. Eugen Roshkovan the Chairman of Association of small business.

The Bill on small and medium-sized enterprises has been submitted to the parliamentary commission. But until now, the content of the document is unknown, no one is interested in a civil society’s opinion on this issue,"- says Roshkovan.

At the same time, he noted that any single principle on the need of small business development is not respected. However, we signed an Association of Agreement with the EU, where in Chapter 10 "Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship" (Articles 62 and 63), the promotion and support of small and medium-sized enterprises is required, in particular it relates to the micro-enterprises.

"Among our other requirements to the authority I would like to emphasize on the abolition of paragraph 5, Art. 17 of the Law, which envisages "Retail trade from the stalls, tents and vehicles at the markets and/or in places authorized by local public administration authority – to exclude from 1 January 2017". If the authorities fail to meet our demands, we will be forced to once again go to the streets and arrange protest actions", – concluded the leader of the Association.

Branch trade union seeks support from the StreetNet International

In an interview with a reporter of the Moldovan trade union newspaper "Vocea poporului", Natalia Suboci, Chairwoman of the Trade Union Federation "Moldova-Business-Sind" noted in this context that those traders who have patents, though are not union members, are in the focus of attention of the Federation, because they belong to the category of small business.

"They belong to the category of street vendors, and in the frames of the Federation "Moldova-Business-Sind" they are affiliated to the StreetNet International, which unites street vendors from around the world to defend their rights in the field of labor and social relations.

Therefore our Federation strongly opposes government’s attempts from 1 January 2017 to deprive a patent from a large number of people who have found their place in small businesses and working legally, fully paying for their patents, without debts to the state", – noted Natalia Suboci.

From her point of view, the deprivation of their patents would lead to job losses and even greater economic instability.

"We fully agree with the position of Chairman of the Small Business Association Mr. Eugen Roshkovan and ready to cooperate and defend this point of view right up to our participation in the protest actions. We also reserve the right to appeal to the StreetNet International, for our patent holders to get some support at the international level in regard to protection of their rights. Moreover, even in economically developed countries a small business sphere, the base of which are the patent owners, plays a significant role in the country’s economy", – added the Chairwoman of the Trade Union Federation "Moldova-Business-Sind".

Source: http://vocea.md/ru/

5th Congress of Unión de Profesionales y Trabajadores Autónomos (UPTA) elects new leadership

7 June, 2016

The Fifth Congress of UPTA approved the Comprehensive Plan for the recovering of Self-Employment (Plan Integral para la Recuperación del Trabajo Autónomo- PIRTA) which includes an ambitious goal of generational replacement in the group.

On May 19, UPTA, Affiliate of StreetNet International from Spain successfully held its fifth Congress.

Pepe Álvarez, General Secretary of UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores) opened the Congress.

The Congress, with 95% of the votes, has elected Eduardo Abad Sabarís as the new Secretary General of UPTA. Eduardo Abad replaced Sebastian Reyna who served as head of the organization for the last 16 years.

Eduardo Abad Sabarís was born in Villagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra, in 1972. Since 1995 he has worked as a self-employed worker in the sectors of trade and restaurants/hotels, being founder of the Asociación del Autónomos del Salnés in 2001. Currently, he is a Secretary of the National Coordination of UPTA and President of Asociación Gallega de Trabajadores Autónomos y del Mar (AGTAMAR).

Cesar García Arnal was elected as a Deputy General Secretary of UPTA, who has been until now the Institutional Secretary and current General Secretary of AMTAS-UPTA Madrid. Manuel Prieto, General Secretary of UPTA Asturias became a Secretary of Administration. Furthermore, Inés Mazuela, Secretary of UPTA Andalucía, and Eva López, member of the Executive Board of UPTA Rioja were elected as Board Members. 

The Congress has approved the implementation of a Comprehensive Plan for the recovering of Self-employment (Plan Integral de Recuperación del Trabajo Autónomo- PIRTA) which should include a proposal for the generational replacement of the group, revision of the Social Security contribution model, and a more fair and balanced taxation of self-employed workers.

The new General Secretary presented the most important claims of the group in the closing ceremony to the General Director of Self-employment of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security, Carmen Casero, and the Secretary of Organization of UGT, Rafael Espartero.

Source: http://upta.es/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=902:eduardo-abad-sabaris-nuevo-secretario-general-de-la-union-de-profesionales-y-trabajadores-autonomos-upta&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=1

Information provided by UPTA Communication Department.

More pictures of the 5th Congress can be seen here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upta/sets/72157668550233426

Wisborn Malaya, Regional Focal Point Coordinator talks about his experience and challenges in the East & South African Region

Wisborn Malaya, General Secretary of Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) who is also a Coordinator of StreetNet Regional Focal Point for East & South African Region acquaints us with main challenges and concerns related to his activity as a RFP Coordinator.

StreetNet International in its structure has four Regional Focal Points (RFPs) a main role of which is to coordinate affiliates’ activity in the region and to keep StreetNet International Council informed regarding the composition, function and activities of RFPs.

Today we will talk about the RFP for East & South African Region. The following nine affiliates belong to this RFP: AEIMO (Mozambique), AZIEA (Zambia), Eastern Cape Alliance of Street Vendors and Ubumbano Traders Alliance (South Africa), KENASVIT (Kenya), Khathang Tema Baits’okoli (Lesotho), MUFIS (Malawi), TUICO (Tanzania), ZCIEA (Zimbabwe).

One of the main challenges in coordinating RFP, Brother Wisborn emphasized a communication problem. "Until now it stays as a very big problem, as some of our affiliates still don’t use Skype app which is the main communication tool for gathering all affiliates representatives. Or, even, if some of them have Skype and all communication options, they seem too busy to have a scheduled Skype teleconference. That’s why it’s a challenge for us to hold regular monthly online meetings, but when there is a call for a regional or international activity participation they respond very swiftly", – notes Wisborn, – "We still have to organize and re-organise Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Angola, Uganda".

According to RFP Coordinator, the other challenge which is also crucial in proper functioning of RFP is weak financial capacity or just lack of any financial resources.

RFP Coordinator says: "Unfortunately we can’t even implement our Strategic Plan (2015-2016) which requires some financial obligations and contributions in its fulfillment. However, just recently we started to work on fundraising to search for some partners who can financially assist our organization ZCIEA as well as to extend its support to the whole RFP. We are still making close follow ups on the potential support for the regional work by one of our local funding partners through their regional office. Our StreetNet coordinator is also now part of this initiative. We have a rather good Strategic Plan which was developed by all affiliates concerned and includes a lot of new initiatives in promoting street vendors’ rights and interest in the region. We also can’t afford any regional exchange visits which are so important for affiliates to share their experience and to learn from each other.

However, from our side we try to advise affiliates’ leadership to follow their constitution and to hold their Congresses on time as this is one of the most important principal for any democratic membership organization. Up to date 5 of our focal point affiliates have held their democratic congresses between the last 2013 StreetNet Congress and up till now.

We need to promote youth participation in our activities as they are the today and tomorrow’s hope for continuous movement building. That’s why it’s so essential to involve young boys and girls into union activity and trainings".

Wisborn Malaya also pointed on the progress made since the last StreetNet International Congress in Chile in 2013. He noticed that they managed to have two focal point workshops, the aim of which was: to identify and provide solutions to challenges facing the focal point in organizing and implementation of work; to review the focal point work plan; to address the engagement and involvement of the youth in the StreetNet activities and possibilities of establishing the youth commission; to come up with better methods of promoting the Informal Traders to work in partnership with the Cross boarder traders in their countries etc. Wisborn also added that more affiliates started to participate in the RFP activity. So that now all of them can speak with one voice, as unity became one of their main values.

There are also some successes of RFP within the last few years and one of them is participation in SADC People’s Summits, which took place in Zimbabwe (2014) and Botswana (2015), and on which informal workers defined their demands. More information about this event can be found here: http://www.streetnet.org.za/show.php?id=652

As a Coordinator of Regional Focal Point, Wisborn Malaya suggests for each RFP to try searching for financial resources by themselves and to get support from StreetNet International Office for this initiative.

In conclusion he stressed: "The East & Southern Africa focal point believes together we can make it. What is important is to maintain the "Nothing for Us Without Us" mentality. On behalf of the focal point I also thank the StreetNet Coordinator Pat Horn, the entire StreetNet working team and Leadership for a job well done by acquiring StreetNet Premises in Durban South Africa. Such an achievement is not done by opportunists but by the visionary. We trust that the StreetNet family will continue to grow besides the shrinking down of activities and office running funds. We trust that the efforts of ICC will bring about the hope every StreetNet member is anticipating for".

Interviewed by Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

New Municipality Plan to relocate street vendors in El Salvador

Jose Herminio Díaz, FESTIVES Secretary General, a StreetNet Affiliate from El-Salvador introduces current changes for the street traders in his country.

The Municipality Plan to reorder the city was launched on 20 April. The municipality said that vendors who were in the near of the National Palace will be relocated. Besides that, vendors of Plaza José de San Martín will move to a temporal place assigned by the plan.

Street vendors that were in the center of the San Salvador city will move to the new Market Cuscatlán. Municipality workers are helping 700 informal vendors to move there.

Right now they are checking that all services (electricity, water, etc.) are fine. Nayib Bukele, the Mayor of the city wants to reorganize the center of the city without using violence and they are having some dialogue with entrepreneurs and street vendors of the zone.

He said he had 300 meetings with informal traders to do that.

It is very important for the Mayor that informal traders support the strategic measures of the municipality. He also mentioned that the New market will be open in August of this year and will be one of the most modern and secure markets of the country.

After 30 years of disorder and saturation, street traders of Plaza General José de San Martín have agreed with the Mayor to relocate their stalls.

Vendors located in the near of the National Palace will dislodge voluntarily that area as a part of the municipality plan to recover the city.

The mayor said that they have recovered 20 blocks of the center of the city. The first stage of relocation of vendors will be developed in the next 18 months without using violence.

They are planning to recover in total 209 blocks of the center of the city.

However there is a division of opinions between street vendors regarding the Mayor’s plan. One group think that the changes of the municipality are positive, the other group instead, rejects those changes.

Herminio Díaz, FESTIVES Secretary General believes that the dialogue and promises of the municipality have ensured the development of activities for a better San Salvador.

Moreover, it is the first time that such kind of plan respects the rights of street vendors and they (street vendors) agree to be relocated.

The municipality is supposed to invest 100 million US dollars to reorder the Historic Center of the city.

Information provided by Jose Herminio Díaz.