By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Organiser
On the 23-25 and 28-30 March 2016, StreetNet International and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), jointly ran a training workshop on organising from the bottom up for syndicates of workers in the informal economy in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City respectively. The workshop fell within the framework of a project with Oxfam, Belgium.
The 40 participants who attended the two workshops were syndicate organisers and leaders. They came from different provinces of Vietnam to learn how to organise informal workers and establish negotiating forums, as well as to share their experience on work in the different sectors of the informal economy.
StreetNet International Coordinator, Pat Horn and StreetNet Organiser for Asia and Europe, Oksana Abboud, facilitated the training course.
The main aims of the workshops were:
The Hanoi workshop was opened by Dang Trung Dung, the deputy-director of the VGCL International Department. In his welcoming speech Brother Dung stressed that the informal sector should be recognised and properly defended at the national level. For this purpose a special policy needs to be developed and adopted, he said. Trade unions should organise both formal and informal workers and with the support of StreetNet and the VGCL, develop an Action Plan in this regard.
The VGCL set its membership development goals which aim to organise workers into unions comprising up to 10 million members in all, by the end of 2016.
The participants of both the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City workshops, mainly VGCL organisers from different provinces, represented different sectors of the informal economy, namely: fishermen, teachers of private kindergarten schools, migrants, Seon (tricycle) drivers, market vendors, porters and waste pickers.
OXFAM and Research Center for Gender, Family and Community Development (GFCD) representatives also attended the workshop.
On the first day of the workshop, Pat Horn focused attention on the formalisation issue, introducing the recently adopted ILO Recommendation 204. Participants were tasked with identifying clauses of this ILO Recommendation, that are the most important and helpful for the protection of informal workers.
On the second day, participants had to think about a range of collective negotiations, identify different levels of negotiations, identify the differences between bilateral and multi-lateral negotiations as well as learn how to use a logframe as a planning tool.
The next activity was aimed at developing an understanding of negotiating counterparts, what to expect when approaching them and to develop an ability to anticipate obstacles and strategies to overcome them.
In their next task, participants were expected to develop ideas as to how to organise negotiations internally; identify capacity constraints while negotiating as well as to understand all the steps which make up a good negotiations process.
On the last workshop day, all trainees worked on identifying five things which are the most important for establishing a new negotiations forum; discussing obstacles which may confront them while establishing a new forum and ways of overcoming these obstacles.
The last session was devoted to developing action guidelines for methods of organising from the bottom up.
It should be noted that all participants of the two workshops succeeded in their tasks and acquired new skills and knowledge regarding the organising of informal workers and establishing negotiations forums in the informal sector.
The Cambodian participants from Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Associations (IDEA), a StreetNet affiliate, attended the second training workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, and added value to it by sharing their experience with their Vietnamese colleagues.
In conclusion, it can be confidently said that all the trainees now understand bottom up organising and are ready to implement their knowledge and skills in practice.
There is also a portuguese version of the Blog where one can access personal updates on news and events. It can be found on this link: http://streetnetbrasil.wordpress.com/
StreetNet Newsletter 32 [pdf]
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.
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