Social Protection Floors Presentation

4 June 2012

StreetNet is 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. StreetNet's members are informal workers, who, just like other workers, have a right to social protection. They are significant contributors to country economies. They cater daily to the needs of millions of consumers. The majority of informal workers are poorer working women.

StreetNet is in support of the approach adopted in the text on Social Protection Floors for social justice and a fair globalization, as it opens an important window of opportunity to get a basic minimum of social security to all people. The Social Protection Floors approach is an important advance on the traditional approaches to social protection based purely on work occupation and an employment relationship. StreetNet and its affiliate organizations believe that social protection for the current-day working poor need to consist of a package of basic securities, i.e.

  • Workplace security
  • Income security
  • Food security
  • Health security (incl. maternity benefits, health insurance incl. HIV/AIDS)
  • Retirement security

Accordingly, StreetNet favours an approach which will provide access to all residents, including migrants and informal cross-border traders in every country, especially the most vulnerable who have traditionally been marginalized for reasons of their informality, precarious or a-typical positions in the labour market - or their citizenship status.

This necessarily requires an inclusive implementation approach - engaging the participation of democratic representative organizations of workers (including own-account workers) in the informal economy, precarious and a-typical workers, and representatives of other social and community groups whose social protection needs are intended to be addressed - in processes of social dialogue and policy implementation.

In order to move away from social protection systems purely based on cash transfers, StreetNet believes that it is essential for Social Protection Floors to include a strong element of active labour market policies - both at national and local government level, as safe and decent working conditions for informal workers depends on what local governments do with and for informal workers, for example in the provision of water, sanitation, spaces for markets, and transport management. Labour market policies designed to create and maintain employment are often in conflict with the reality that local authorities regularly block and destroy people's own attempts at creating livelihoods through evictions of informal workers from their trading sites, every day, around the world - undermining the impact of active labour market policies.

StreetNet's approach is underlined by the promotion of a formalisation process defined by workers from different sectors of the informal economy as follows:

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

StreetNet's participation in this discussion is in response to the strong message of our members who have been excluded for so long from social protection: "Nothing for us without us!"

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INDIA. DP is irreparable, scrap it, say activists. Times of India (10 April 2015).

TANZANIA. College plans to identify trade opportunities for hawkers. Daily News (10 April 2015)  by Ludovick Kazoka.

INDIA. No street vendors, cycle rickshaws in Lajpat Nagar market: NGT. Zee News (8 April 2015) by PTI. New Delhi:

BOTSWANA. EDD is the way to go. Mmegi Online (8 April 2015).

USA. Five Courses: Hawkers' street food flair & more. Creative Loafing Tampa Bay (8 April 2015) by Meaghan Habuda.

INDIA. Hawkers may be allowed near Rishi Kapoor, Anil Ambani's Pali Hill residences. DNA India (8 April 2015) by Amrita Nayak Dutta.

ABU-DHABI. Abu Dhabi Municipality raid scares away street hawkers. Gulf News (7 April 2015).

SINGAPORE. Hawker centres to be spruced up with murals and art installations. Channel News Asia (5 April 2015) by Vimita Mohandas.

MALAYSIA. 'Development will be inclusive'. The Star Online (3 April 2015).

INDIA. 'Street vendors denied right to livelihood'. The Hindu (1 April 2015) by K.N. Umesh.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa: Xenophobic Violence in KZN - 'This Is a Black Easter for Foreigners'.

SINGAPORE. Singapore street food: stewed, sliced and steamed - video.

USA. Street vendors press city to legalize their trade.

StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies