Participatory Campaign To Produce An International Street Vendors Manifesto
In 1995 a group of activists from 11 countries who were committed to increasing the visibility, voice and bargaining power of street vendors throughout the world met in Bellagio, Italy. They developed a preliminary street vendors’ manifesto known as the Bellagio Declaration. They also made a decision that an international federation should be established to promote and protect the rights of street vendors. That federation was launched in November 2002 and named StreetNet International. By the end of 2005, StreetNet International had 20 affiliated organizations representing street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Based on the knowledge and experience of its member organizations, StreetNet is now able to produce an updated street vendors’ manifesto with the full participation of a wide range of street vendor organizations in many different countries, with StreetNet’s affiliates playing a leading role in the process.
Aims of the campaign:
- To raise public awareness of the situation of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers, and their contribution to local and national economies.
- To change the unjustified and misinformed negative public perceptions which exist in most countries about street vendors.
- To promote the official recognition of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers as workers, entitled to the same basic rights as all workers in accordance with the international standards developed by the International Labour Organisation.
- To mobilise street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to articulate their needs and concerns.
- To capture the needs and concerns of the poorest and most marginalized groups of vendors who struggle most to be heard and recognized. This means that there will be a focus both on women vendors, as a majority group, and marginalized minority groups such as disabled vendors with special needs.
- For street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers themselves to develop the manifesto as a massive participatory research process, with women and the poorest and most marginalized vendors leading the process.
- For street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to recruit others to join the campaign through the means of soliciting their needs and concerns and thereby encourage them to organize themselves, or to join and strengthen already existing organisations.
- To develop a manifesto based on the needs and concerns collected from street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers throughout the world as a living document representing their collective aspirations.
- To develop a manifesto which can form the basis of collective bargaining demands of street vendors, market vendors and hawkers in their struggles to establish statutory representational systems for themselves at local, national and international levels.
Once StreetNet International has adopted the Manifesto Campaign, all street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers and their organizations will be invited to initiate activities at local, regional and national level.
Activities at local level:
- Form Local Campaign Committees (LCCs) under the leadership of any StreetNet affiliate in the area. If there is no StreetNet affiliate, any other organization may be democratically elected by participants to lead the Campaign Committee in that area – but should be made known to any StreetNet affiliate in that country or the StreetNet International office. All Campaign Committees should comprise at least 50% women, according to StreetNet’s gender policy.
- The LCCs should conduct brainstorming sessions on how to reach all street vendors including women, disabled vendors, the employees or agents of vendors, itinerant vendors, unrecognized vendors, any children working as vendors.
- The principal campaign activity will be general meetings, seminars and focus groups for street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to collect their needs and concerns and get these on record. Attendance records also need to be kept, with a record of the gender of participants, what kind of vending they do and where.
- Sending all the collected needs and concerns of vendors to the NCC, any affiliate of StreetNet or to the StreetNet International office – in writing – by hand, by fax, by e-mail or any other functional means. Tapes of recorded discussions can also be forwarded.
- Contacting local media and community newspapers and radio stations to publicise the Campaign and its aims.
- Involving other organizations or social partners operating in the area (NGOs, trade unions, employers) in specific aspects of the campaign activities – in a supportive role (understanding that street vendors maintain the leading role).
- Contacting local authorities and political parties to inform them about the Campaign and getting undertakings from them to engage in social dialogues (or where possible, collective bargaining) around the findings.
Activities at national level
- Form a National Campaign Committee (NCC) under the leadership of StreetNet affiliate(s) in each country. If a Campaign Committee is formed in a country which has no StreetNet affiliate, any other organization may be democratically elected by participants to lead – but should be made known to the StreetNet International office. All Campaign Committees should comprise at least 50% women, according to StreetNet’s gender policy.
- The NCC should conduct brainstorming sessions on how to reach street vendors in less organized areas of the country – focusing particularly on women, disabled vendors, the employees or agents of vendors, itinerant vendors, unrecognized vendors, any children working as vendors.
- The NCC’s principal campaign activity will also be general meetings, seminars and focus groups for street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to collect their needs and concerns and get these on record, at a national level or in areas where there is no LCC. Attendance records also need to be kept, with a record of the gender of participants, what kind of vending they do and where.
- NCCs should assist LCCs where they are requested to do so.
- Sympathetic members of the media will be brought together to help devise a media strategy to promote the Campaign and further its objectives.
- Collecting and compiling needs and concerns of vendors from LCCs, any affiliate of StreetNet in the country – in writing – and making transcriptions of tapes of recorded discussions.
- Producing a national campaign newsletter, leaflets and e-newsletter if possible.
- The International Council will set up a StreetNet International Campaign Committee (SICC) to co-ordinate both the Manifesto Campaign and the WCCA Campaign. Until the formation of the SICC, the international co-ordination of the campaigns will be done by the StreetNet International office.
- A record of all active NCCs and LCCs will be kept in the international office.
- We will need to exchange ideas and information, co-operate at all levls and come together for joint activity. StreetNet International will provide support to the extent it is possible and keep affiliates informed about each others’ activities. StreetNet will also help to co-ordinate activity in order to ensure that the voices of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers are heard internationally across the globe.
- StreetNet News will have a regular page dedicated to the WCCA campaign and the Manifesto Campaign.
- The StreetNet website will maintain an ongoing WCCA Campaign web page and a Manifesto Campaign web page.
When the needs, concerns and demands of vendors are being collected, they should be asked to express their views on as many of the following themes as possible:
- economic and labour rights;
- organization and representation;
- urban planning, spatial regulation and informal trade;
- infrastructure, transport and other facilities;
- health, safety and the environment;
- finance and credit;
- technical and non-financial support services;
- trade, tariff and other product-related regulations;
- education and training needs and aspirations;
- women vendors;
- disabled vendors;
- foreign vendors;
- children working as vendors or vendors’ assistants;
- family labour in informal trade;
- social protection needs.
The manifesto campaign will be launched at the StreetNet International Congress in
2007, where the official name will be decided. The StreetNet International council will establish the SICC. The campaign will be conducted in phases, as follows:
- Raising public awareness about the situation of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers, and their contribution to local and national economies.
- Raising the awareness of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers about the campaign and establishing NCCs and LCCs.
- Finalising plans for national campaigns in as many countries as possible around the new international street vendors’ Manifesto. This campaign is designed to allow street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers to express in their own words what their needs, demands and aspirations are. The process will be bottom up and not top down, and will be consultative and participatory. Not only is such a process more democratic, but it will also be an exercise in educating and raising the awareness of vendors themselves as well as the rest of society.
- Preliminary identification of some of the issues that are likely to arise.
Phase II. Ascertaining vendors’ demands
- This will be done principally according to the participatory research methodology to be organized by the LCCs and the NCCs in each country as described above.
- More general views will be solicited through advertising and arranging for newspapers, magazines and radio to systematically canvas opinion on specific or a variety of issues.
- National street vendors’ organizations (including StreetNet affiliates) and regional alliances and organizations may also organize activities to canvas the opinions of their own members on other occasions, and record these as part of the input into the campaign.
Phase III. Processing demands
- During this phase, the recorded demands, needs and concerns which have been collected from street vendors around the world in all different forms should be consolidated into an initial draft document.
- The StreetNet International Council should convene an international campaign workshop to discuss the findings and how these should be structured into a Manifesto. This workshop would also be for planning of the following phases of the Campaign.
- The draft should be put into the form of a discussion document – in which any glaring gaps and themes needing further elaboration are clearly identified – to be used in all countries as the basis of the following phases of the Campaign.
Phase IV. Promoting national debates on issues raised by vendors
- Challenge local, regional and national political parties and municipal authorities. How are they addressing the concerns of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers ? Let them know we will be monitoring their policies and actions and measuring changes between now and when elections come up next.
- Actions – publicly celebrate our unity and power. Get out into the streets with human chains, festivals, picnics, pickets, rallies led by women vendor leaders – whatever forms of action will draw vendors together and put issues into the public eye.
- Media – Contact local TV, radio, newspapers and magazines to get stories printed and talk shows screened/hosted about the Manifesto Campaign and about some of the themes and emerging issues. Develop and distribute T-shirts, banners, posters and pamphlets highlighting the concerns of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers.
- Cultural activities – Ask playwrights, dancers, musicians and artists to develop songs and performances on vendors’ issues.
- Educational events – Organise discussions with vendors in the streets and the markets where they are working, work to set up lessons focusing on vendors and other workers in the informal economy with students and teachers in schools, colleges and universities, talk to local hawkers’ and vendors’ organizations about the Manifesto Campaign.
Phase V. Crystallising demands
This phase should consist of national and international activities which focus on discussing different ways of structuring the Manifesto with a view to developing a broadly based consensus on how the Manifesto will be most useful to organizations on street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers.
Phase VI. Formulating Manifesto and process of adoption
This phase should consist of the compilation and production of the final Manifesto, which should be adopted eventually at a StreetNet International Congress, and launched at a suitable high-profile international event to be discussed and identified during Phase III.
Phase VII. Using the Manifesto to improve the situation of street vendors
This will be an ongoing follow-up phase, involving:
- publicizing and making available the Manifesto as widely as possible for general awareness-raising and as an organizational tool;
- using it in worker education about the street vendors’ work sector;
- using it in the preparation of demands for collective bargaining for street vendors, informal market vendors and/or hawkers;
- using it in advocating for statutory collective bargaining forums for workers in the informal economy in general, or street vendors in particular;
- using it in international forums to represent the general perspective of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers;
- further discussions in StreetNet International about ways of using the Manifesto.
StreetNet International, as the principal organization undertaking the Manifesto Campaign, will identify campaign partners at international level as well as at national level in those countries where the campaign is launched. The affiliate(s) of StreetNet will lead the campaign internationally.
A distinction will be made between strategic alliances forged with organizations who largely share the political and strategic vision of StreetNet, and more tactical alliances forged around identified areas of common ground with organizations who do not necessarily share StreetNet’s vision or primary interests on all other matters.
The campaign output will be strengthened by engaging quality technical support (such as research capacity, collation of the results into a Manifesto, statistical analysis, publication in various forms to different audiences, translation to/from different languages, etc.) – and care will be taken that the technical support is not engaged in such a way as to undermine the leading role of the street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in determining the nature of the Manifesto which finally emerges from the Campaign.
- trade union movement (international such as ICFTU and WCL, as well as national trade union centers in each country)
- Global Union Federations (particularly PSI (Public Services International), UNI (Union Network International) and their national affiliates)
- Human rights activists
- Public interest lawyers
- Movements/organizations of child workers and children’s rights
- Urban planners
- Local government administration and enforcement officers
- organized business interests
- politicians/political parties
- consumer councils
- WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising)
- ILO and its various regional and country offices
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