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Decent Work and the Informal Economy in Africa Policy and Organisational Challenges Pat Horn StreetNet International and WIEGO Paper presented to the IIRA.

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Presentation on theme: "Decent Work and the Informal Economy in Africa Policy and Organisational Challenges Pat Horn StreetNet International and WIEGO Paper presented to the IIRA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Decent Work and the Informal Economy in Africa Policy and Organisational Challenges Pat Horn StreetNet International and WIEGO Paper presented to the IIRA 5 th African Regional Conference, Cape Town, March 2008

2 Presentation Decent work and the informal economy in Africa Organisation & representation challenges for trade unions Organisational progress Policy challenges Conclusions

3 Decent Work & the Informal Economy in Africa The Challenge To contribute to the eradication of poverty through increased employment that is decent work, noting that: 72% of non agricultural employment in sub-Saharan Africa is informal 84% of women non-agricultural workers are informally employed in sub-Saharan Africa Most new employment in Africa is in the informal economy

4 Promoting decent work in the informal economy “To promote decent work, it is necessary to eliminate the negative aspects of informality while at the same time ensuring that opportunities for livelihood and entrepreneurship are not destroyed, and promoting the protection and incorporation of workers and economic units in the informal economy into the mainstream economy” Conclusions concerning decent work and the informal economy, 90 th Session of the ILC, June 2002

5 Organisation and Representation Challenges for Trade Unions Key challenges To effectively organise workers in the informal economy (or face becoming small, weak and unrepresentative of workers) To enable elected representatives of informal workers to put forward their demands for decent work by participating directly in negotiations and policy dialogues through their organisations

6 Specific challenges for unions to address Political will Legal changes Constitutional changes New organising strategies and forms Collective bargaining and representation Women leaders Learning from those already doing it Organizing informal workers as equals Joint campaigns Tackling globalisation Taking a lead in civil society Financial sustainability

7 Representation challenges Informal workers are not recognised as part of the labour force – especially own account workers Informal workers are excluded from the formal voice regulation system: policy dialogue forums, collective bargaining forums But informal workers have shown that they can negotiate collectively locally and nationally, and make an impact in international forums where they are strongly organized Informal workers need to be brought into the formal system of voice regulation, appropriately reformed Trade unions/informal worker organisations need to engage jointly in the formal voice regulation system

8 Organisational Progress Trade Union initiatives-examples Sectoral unions incorporate informal workers (Ghana TUC affiliates, TUICO Tanzania, SATAWU SA) National centre /union helps form an association /coalition (OTM Mozambique, SFTU Swaziland) National centre forms an informal worker union (UNTA Angola) Informal worker association and National Centre have a formal cooperation agreement (NUNW Namibia, ZCTU Zimbabwe) Informal worker’s union affiliates to national centre (MCTU Malawi)

9 Other initiatives-examples ILO-Danida in Francophone West Africa. Initiative to promote organizing in the informal economy in 5 countries, and cooperation between national centres ACTRAV- encouraged adoption of trade union constitutions following the ILO-Danida project StreetNet International-UNI Project to strengthen capacity of informal worker organisations in 8 West African countries

10 Achievements Recognition by local authorities Recognition by national governments Ability to exercise worker rights e.g. right to organise Voice and representation- even if ad hoc Means to affiliate internationally and enjoy solidarity Means to be represented in international forums such as the ILC

11 Policy challenges Reduce poverty and inequality Informal workers, especially women, face social discrimination and are often trapped in survivalist activities Need to prioritise policies that raise levels of work security, income security and social security and improve working conditions and income opportunities Trade unions often become culprits in promoting inappropriate policies – need to organise informal workers so they can obtain proper mandates

12 Make appropriate policy interventions 1.Reform Labour legislation Wage workers -Reform in accordance with ILO Recommendation on the Employment Relationship, 2006, and increase applicability and enforcement (disguised, ambiguous, triangular relationships) Own account workers - Reform to use the term “worker” rather than employee -Develop a new conceptual framework for legal definition. Look at economic dependency with actors other than employers.

13 2. Develop laws, policies, programmes for decent job creation Registration and ID system Appropriate taxation system Remove obstacles to cross border trade Review municipal by-laws and develop legal guidelines for municipalities Financial and non-financial support measures (e.g. Skills training) Support the ILO conclusions on social security, 2001, in the context of an integrated national social security system Prioritise decent work in the informal economy in decent work country programmes

14 3.Provide Statutory Representation Informal workers have no statutory means to engage authorities in collective negotiations. At national level: Investigate a statutory labour market institutional arrangement for workers in the informal economy. For SA, this should be the job of a NEDLAC task team In SA, change the NEDLAC constitution to allow the participation of the Community Constituency in all NEDLAC Chambers

15 Conclusion Don’t focus on defining the informal economy Do focus on what is being achieved and what can be done Provide analytical and technical support for appropriate policies that could lead to more decent work for workers in the African informal economy


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