Workers in the Informal Economy need decent work

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SEWA Workers in the Informal Economy need decent work. In it's International labour
Conference of 2002 the ILO passed a resolution on Decent Work in the Informal
Economy which needs to be implemented. We the Executive Committee of SEWA
have passed a resolution for October 7-World Day for Decent work for Workers in the
Informal Economy.
Hope our efforts will change the situation of the workers
Wishing you all the best for this day.
In solidarity
Jyoti Macwan
General Secretary, SEWA
Resolution by SEWA’s Executive committee on celebrating
“October 7- World day for Decent Work”
SEWA was registered in 1972 as a trade union and since then is organizing women
workers of the informal economy. Now it has taken a shape of a movement
SEWA’s goal is to organize women workers for full employment and selfreliance. Full employment means employment whereby workers obtain work
security, income security, food security and social security (at least health care,
child care and shelter). By self- reliance we mean that women should be
autonomous and self reliant, individually and collectively, both economically and
in term of the decision-making ability.
SEWA has currently membership of 1123542 women workers in 9 states of India
namely Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pardesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala,
Uttarakhand and West Bengal
In India out of total work force 93% of the work force is in the informal sector, out of
which 60% are the women workers. This numbers is even higher for workers in
textiles, garments and leather sectors, where unprotected work is increasing with more
home based workers, casual, contract workers in small factories and self employment.
In the Formal sector, employment is created through the creation of jobs by firms, and
this employment is generally regular, full time, protected employment, with a clear
employer-employee relationship. In informal sector there are no “Jobs”. At one time
the women worker would be working at a number of different employments. For
example, a small or marginal farmer would also work as a weaver; or an agricultural
labourer would also be engaged in dairying; or construction workers may work as a
domestic worker on the days she does not get the construction work; and a paper
picker in monsoon may be making kites. In particular, especially women are the most
weakest workers in informal economy. These workers do not have security of work,
and many days of unemployment. They have no protection against being dismissed at
any time. They do not have access to social security and much of their earnings go
into health care. They have no support in their old age. Women have double burden of
child care and work. They have very low earnings and poor conditions of work.
Poverty is closely linked with informal work. Generally, they are not organized into
trade unions Often the existing legal structure does not recognize the
organizations/cooperatives and the trade unions of such workers. UN Millennium
Summit in 2005 September also stressed “productive employment and decent work”.
Livelihoods are also on the top of the list of SAARC Development Goals. In it's
International labour Conference of 2002 the ILO passed a resolution on Decent Work
in the Informal Economy. In August 2002 ILO stressed on Gender Equity and Decent
work.
SEWA believes that link between poverty and growth is WORK and the link between
growth and informal work is women. Since the economic and social structures are so
interrelated, the solutions too have to be integrated. This means that there is no one
formula for poverty reduction rather it has to be an approach which address the
various economic and social factors which cause and perpetuate poverty. The
economic structure is closely connected with the social structure. For e.g. social needs
such as health child care, education and housing are all linked to economic
capabilities.
Creating employment is then no longer a matter of creating ‘jobs’, but of
strengthening these working poor to overcome structural constraints and enter markets
where they would be competitive. Often these markets, which may be labour markets,
products markets or financial markets, may not exist locally, and would need to be
built up or institutions created which would link with the larger markets.
So, in such case, we believe that workers in the informal economy need following
things to reach this state of full employment
1. They need capital formation at the household and their group level through
access to financial services (savings, credit, insurance) to build up and create
assets of their own (land, house, workshed, equipment, cattle, bank balance).
Asset ownership is the surest weapon to fight the vulnerability of poverty.
2. They need building of their capacity to stand firm in the competitive market i.e.
access to market infrastructure, access to technology, information, education,
knowledge and relevant skills (accountancy, management, planning, designing,
e.g.).
3. They poor need social security - at least healthcare, childcare, shelter and
insurance - to combat the chronic risks faced by them and their families.
4.
Most importantly, they need collective, organised strength (through their
associations) for Voice and representation in order to be able to bargain to be
able to actively participate, in the planning, implementation and monitoring
processes of the programmes that are meant for them, and also in all other affairs
of the nation.
Therefore the Executive committee of SEWA resolves that
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Ensuring all the workers of informal economy full employment and decent
work
To recognize and demand recognition for women workers of informal
economy and to include them in laws and policies which ensures them decent
livelihood.
To work and advocate for policies which promote full employment and
adequate income to these workers
To promote full coverage of social security to these workers by extending
existing schemes and formulating new ones.
To promote alternative economic programme and interventions for workers to
directly reach markets, so as strengthen their bargaining power.
To assist the formation of member based organization especially trade unions,
co-operatives, self help groups or any other type of organization of informal
economy and to promote the same.
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