Webinar Series: Legal and Advocacy Strategies to Ensure Workers' Rights in the Informal Economy

Webinar March 2021 Law Programme
1 January 2021 - 30 April 2022

WIEGO’s Law Programme and the International Network for Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) presented a multi-part series of webinars and workshops focused on strategic and creative litigation and advocacy strategies to enhance, protect and help realize the labour and collective rights of workers in the informal economy, including self-employed workers.

The series ran throughout 2021 and into 2022, and will culminate in workshops with interested lawyers, partners and workers to proactively implement lessons learned from these webinars through litigation and advocacy. Also, the ILAW Network plans to focus its Winter 2022 Global Labour Rights Reporter on workers in the informal economy.

Webinar 4:  Laws that Recognize and Protect Homeworkers: Comparing Approaches in Pakistan, Thailand and Australia

Date: Apr 21, 2022

The fourth webinar in our series on strategic and creative litigation and advocacy strategies to enhance, protect and realize the labour and collective rights of workers in the informal economy was held on 21 April. This webinar focused on homeworkers (industrial outworkers). It contrasted legislative approaches in three countries –Pakistan, Australia and Thailand – and discussed the strategies used by trade unions, homeworkers and their allies for homeworkers to be legally recognised as supply chain workers.  

In Thailand, HomeNet Thailand, with the support of the ILO and other allies advocated for the innovative HomeWorker Protection Act (2010). In Australia, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of New South Wales fought for industrial outworkers to be recognized as employees. Australia is the first country in the world to introduce a supply chain approach. In Pakistan, the Home-Based Women Workers Federation, together with its allies, struggled for the Sindh Home-based Workers Act, which was promulgated in 2018. 

Panelists – Professor Shelley Marshall, Zehra Khan, Vivienne Wiles and Beth MacPherson (with Marlese von Broembsen facilitating), discussed the challenges and strategies to achieve the legislation; lessons learnt from the implementation and enforcement of the legislation, and the impact on homeworkers.

Webinar #3: Using ILO Recommendation 204 to secure the rights to collective bargaining and to participate in social dialogue

The third webinar in the series, held on August 25, focused on strategies to extend labour rights to informal workers. Participants discussed ILO Recommendation No. 204 concerning the Transition from the Informal to Formal Economy, 2015, which calls on ILO member states to extend the rights to collective bargaining and to participate in social dialogue to all workers, regardless of their employment status or place of work.Speakers – including Patricia (Pat) Horn of WIEGO, Annie Diouf of SYNATREIN and Rutendo Shylyn Mudarikwa, a legal practitioner with the High Court of Zimbabwe – discussed their experiences utilizing and advocating for R204.


Webinar #2: Strategic Litigation for Recognition of Employee Status: Waste Pickers and Domestic Workers

The webinar on May 20 focused on two occupational groups’ fight for recognition as employees: domestic workers (in South Africa) and waste pickers (in Colombia). One of the biggest challenges in ensuring rights for informal workers is legal recognition of their status as workers.

Panelists – Federico Parra, Javier Francisco Arenas, Thulani Nkosi and Ziona Tanzer (with Aminta Ossom facilitating) – looked at how worker organizations and their lawyers have used courts and advocacy strategies to fight for their recognition as employees. The webinar engaged with the advocacy strategies, jurisprudence and legislative amendments that followed from the Mahlangu and Another v Minister of Labour and Others case in South Africa and the orders of compliance with Judgment T-724 of 2003, Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá (ARB) against the Capital District of Bogotá, in Colombia (Auto (Pronouncement) 268 of 2010; Auto (pronouncement) 275 of 2011; Auto (pronouncement) 587 of 2015).


Webinar #1: Introduction to the Informal Economy for Labour Lawyers

The first webinar in the series, held on March 31, introduced the diverse and vibrant informal economy to labour lawyers to enable a better understanding of the key debates on formalization. It also explained what lawyers and workers' organizations are doing to support informal workers. Speakers were: 

  • Pamhidzai Bamu, who analyzed the different employment statuses and occupational groups that form part of the informal economy. She discussed waged employment and self-employment, and legal strategies to extend labour rights, including collective bargaining.
  • Marlese von Broembsen discussed ILO Recommendation 204 concerning the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy and its potential for realizing self-employed workers' right to collective bargaining. She explained various regulatory and contractual strategies that street vendors have pursued in different countries.
  • Jacqueline Wamai from ILAW discussed how lawyers, informal-economy worker organizations and unions have challenged legal frameworks that exclude informal workers from rights and protections.



Informal Economy Theme
Informal Economy Topic
Event type