Five Achievements for Informal Workers in 2018

Tue Jan 1, 2019
Topics: Organizing

Change doesn’t come passively, especially for the world’s most invisible workers. That’s why informal workers across the globe have been rallying together, forming stronger and savvier membership-based organizations and standing up to demand recognition and rights.

These five stories exemplify the important outcomes of grassroots organizing efforts – from a new street vendor organization calling on Bangkok’s municipality to halt evictions to women headloaders in Accra’s famed markets who demanded the abolishment of unfair tolls.

2018 proved that even the most underrepresented can be seen and heard when they come together – and can stand up to even the most powerful forces to create a more just and inclusive world.

Bangkok’s renowned street vendors march against evictions – and rally widespread support

By Chidchanok Samantrakul and Sarah Orleans Reed

Street vendors in Bangkok took to the streets to demand their right to the city. After relentless evictions against their livelihoods, on 4th September 2018, vendors from across the city marched on the government house to call for a halt to these actions. The march was led by a new, citywide street vendor organization that negotiated a way forward with the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority. Read the full story here.

"Take away these tolls": How Accra's poorest market workers got their wages back

By Carlin Carr

When informal workers organize, change happens. The head porter women of Accra’s colorful, bustling markets – kayayei as they are locally known – are living proof of these efforts. Against many odds, they earned the awareness and understanding of key decision-makers, gaining inclusion in the national health insurance scheme and the abolishment of unfair tolls that were being levied against them. The story of how they did this is one of both collective action and persistence. Read the full story here.

Planeta Verde: The Colombian Cooperative Revolutionizing Waste Picking

Waste pickers in Rionegro, Colombia, have made important gains, including proper payment for the important recycling services they provide to their community. This major win has come through a pioneering waste picker cooperative, Planeta Verde. We spoke with its formidable leader, Martha Elena Iglesias, about how they went from a disparate group of displaced people fleeing Colombia’s armed conflict to a cohesive cooperative that stood up for what they deserved. Read the full interview here and the Spanish version here.

Workplace Violence and Harassment: Informal Workers Also Need Protection

By Karin Pape & Leslie Vryenhoek

Earlier this year, informal workers at the International Labour Conference (ILC) stood before global decision-makers and demanded a better understanding of the widespread harassment and violence they face on the job. Informal workers are at high risk of violence in the world of work. This massive global workforce is typically excluded from legislation meant to protect against harassment and violence at work. Delegations at this year’s ILC stood up to remedy that oversight. Download our new briefing report, "Violence and Informal Work”, and read the full story here.

From Mozambique to Mexico, Domestic Workers are Fighting for their Rights — and Telling their Stories

Domestic workers — those who cook, clean, sweep, and child-mind in private homes across the globe — face unusually challenging circumstances in their every day working lives. Those challenges have fueled a movement by the workers themselves, and we heard from those women on the frontlines fighting for recognition and change. Read full story here.

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Feature photo: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage