Jane Barrett

Director, Organization and Representation

“The imperative to organise informal workers is not simply about recruiting numbers, or even just about improving the conditions under which they generate their income. It is also about changing a mindset and developing new strategies for building the power of workers to influence and change relations in society as a whole.


Organising; worker education; policy development, critique and advocacy – in particular urban, gender, incomes and transport policies; climate change


Jane has worked in workers' organisations since the early 1980s. Prior to taking up her position in WIEGO in early 2016 she worked variously in the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). She has always had a special interest in women workers.

During her time in the South African trade union movement Jane amongst other activities spearheaded efforts to organise outsourced and sub contracted workers, workers employed by small companies, and other vulnerable and/or isolated workers; promoted organisational links between the trade union movement and organisations representing informal workers; and represented organised labour in the Employment Conditions Commission which sets sectoral minimum wages, including for domestic workers.

Jane has an Honours Degree in Industrial Sociology from the University of Witwatersrand and a Masters in Philosophy from SOAS, University of London. She is currently a research associate in the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of Witwatersrand.

Jane took over the Directorship of the Organising and Representation Programme of WIEGO from Chris Bonner in early 2016.