Organizing and mobilizing informal economy workers in Europe and Central Asia 

By Irene Doda
December 21, 2023
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We organized a regional workshop for our Europe and Central Asia affiliates at the Central National Trade Union (CNSM) Institute of Labour in Chisinau, focused on “Organizing and mobilizing informal economy workers”. 

From 9-11 October 2023, StreetNet affiliates gathered to reflect and discuss capabilities and strategies, as well as the main stages of the process of organizing informal economy workers in the region. 

The affiliates present were FTUEU, Ukraine, the Central Committee of the Trade Union of Commerce of Kyrgyzstan,Xhidmat-Ish from Azerbaijan, Trade Union “Vmeste”, Belarus, SCWU, Georgia and Business Sind Moldova. All the affiliates shared their experiences and reflected on the challenges in organizing informal economy workers.

External guests included: Natalya Kirillova  from Trade Union “MOLDCOOP”, Moldova, Valentina Kiriyak from Trade Union “Sindlucas”, Moldova, Viorel Braga from Institute of Labour in Chishinau Doreen Suruchanu from the Institute of Labour in Chisinau. 

The first day was devoted to a number of interventions from Oksana Abboud, International Coordinator of StreetNet, Tamara Bodnari, from Business Sind Moldova, regional focal point and Kateryna Yarmolyuk-Kroeck, Regional Organiser. All stressed the importance of mobilizing more informal economy workers.

Cooperating with trade unions 

The affiliates of the Europe and Central Asia region have long valued their cooperation with formal trade unions.

In his welcoming speech, the CNSM Chairman, Igor Zubcu greeted everyone warmly and emphasizedon the high importance of a fair transition from the informal to the formal economy, just transition with regard to climate change and migration, and the continuing struggle of trade unions towards decent work for all workers. 

During our productive visit, we also signed an agreement of cooperation with the Labour Institute of the National Trade Union Center of Moldova.

International Coordiantor Oksana Abboud and Secretary Jamaladdin Ismayilov signing the agreement with the  Labour Institute of the National Trade Union Center of Moldova. “Organizing is a key and central function of trade unions. However, it might not be the same when it comes to informal economy workers. At this meeting, our affiliates paid special attention to organizational issues and mobilization strategies for the workers in the informal economy in the region”, says Kateryna Yarmolyuk-Kroeck.

The way forward

The workshop was composed of 3 days of intense discussions and group work. After sharing their respective national contexts in organizing informal economy workers, the representatives of the affiliates agreed on the following recommendations for the future:

  • To cooperate with national trade union centers in approaching the issues of organizing informal economy workers workers;
  • To pay special attention to the needs of specific categories of informal economy workers, such as women, youth and elderly people;
  • To cooperate with partners for mobilizing resources for recruiting new members;
  • To train young trade union activists on recruitment and organizing of informal economy workers;
  • To advocate for and cooperate with social dialogue partners as well as international institutions on the application of the ILO Recommendation 204, as well as other relevant International Labour Standards (e.g. C 190, R 202). 

Regional Focal Point coordinator Tamara Bodnari’s intervention during the workshop

Overall, the workshop was very successful as it provided practical recommendations for the participants to develop their own national strategies. We look forward to the implementation of these recommendations in the near future!