Informal workers from the sectors of street vendors, home-based workers, taxi workers, fishermen and waste pickers, attended a mass meeting at the Gandhi Luthuli Hall at the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban on 19 August 2015, to discuss the lack of progress in an ILO Project on Decent Work in eThekwini Municipality, involving all 5 sectors, and to look at a way forward with regard to the EMIEF (eThekwini Municipality Informal Economy Forum) and how to transform this into a democratic and representative negotiating forum in eThekwini.
The meeting agreed with the following recommendations by Limpho Mandoro, ILO Social Dialogue Specialist, in his draft report on the consultations on strengthening of social dialogue mechanisms on the informal economy in the eThekwini Municipality:
- The EMIEF needs to be restructured after full participation of street vendors and informal traders in discussions with regard to the structure they propose;
- New elections need to be held for the representatives of EMIEF, overseen by ILO.
The new structure needs to include representation from all the abovementioned five sectors of workers in the informal economy, and election of their representatives needs to be done by sector. From the side of the municipality, all the relevant units/departments directly interfacing with the different work sectors in the informal economy need to be part of EMIEF – i.e. not only BSU, but also ETA, Parks & Recreation, etc.
Terms of Reference of the new structure or EMIEF should be revised, not as a unilateral draft by municipal officials, but should be negotiated and agreed by all parties.
The mass meeting agreed that the new restructured EMIEF should become an important vehicle for regular proper negotiations between workers in the informal economy and the eThekwini municipality in the future, to tackle the many unresolved problems confronting informal workers on a daily basis in their work.
This declaration is now being forwarded to the political leadership of the eThekwini municipality as well as municipal officials in the relevant department and the Pretoria office of the ILO.