Bimbola Oyesola, Geneva, Switzerland
The International Labour Organisation (IL0) has disclosed that about 2.5 billion workers are now operating in the informal sector of the global economy.
This is even as the global body said the future of the Trade Union movement will be determined by their capability to organise the informal sector.
However, a new report has revealed that organising workers in the informal economy may spark the renewal of the trade union movement.
A recent ILO report shows that the informal economy accounts for 85.8 per cent of employment in Africa, 68.2 per cent in the Asia-Pacific region, 68.6 per cent in the Arab states, 40.0 per cent in the Americas, and 25.1 per cent in Europe and Central Asia. In addition, Women and men in the informal economy:
A statistical picture indicates that 93 percent of the world’s informal employment is based in emerging and developing countries. But the ILO believed that this can be done by expanding membership and collective bargaining coverage in the informal economy in order to protect labour rights, project a united voice and influence social and economic policies.
Addressing decent work deficits that affect 2.5 billion workers in the informal economy is vital to renewal of the trade union movement, according to a new report jointly prepared by the ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) and the Danish Trade Union Development Agency (DTDA).
Entitled Organizing Informal Economy Workers into Trade Unions , the report states that organizing informal workers into trade unions provides opportunities to expand membership and collective bargaining coverage to protect labour rights, strengthen workers’ collective voice, and influence social and economic policies.
“The future trends and dynamics of the informal economy have important implications for workers’ organizations. As such, the trade union movement in general must remain committed to promoting workers’ rights in the informal economy, ensuring the improvement of their working conditions and enabling them to play a decisive role in the economic and social development process of their respective countries. The ILO Recommendation No. 204 is a unique instrument that provides guidance to a rights-based approach on the transition from the informal to the formal economy”, said Mohammed Mwamadzingo, ACTRAV Desk Officer for Africa.
The report identified the six main challenges to the integration of the informal economy into the trade union movement: Who to organize, How to organize, Constitution and representation, Dues structures and collection, Services and benefits to offer, Fostering democratic practices, Presenting best practice and case studies from trade unions worldwide, Organizing Informal Economy Workers into Trade Unions seeks to improve the technical knowledge and skills of union leaders, educators, organizers and representatives of organizations of informal economy workers on the need for formalizing the informal economy.