Social Protection Floors Presentation

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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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