Organizing in the Informal Economy: A Case Study of the Minibus Taxi Industry in South Africa

  • Place of Publication: Geneva
  • Publisher: International Labour Office

In Focus Programme. SEED Working Paper, No. 39

This article analyses the informal minibus taxi industry in South Africa by introducing two national organisations – the Southern African Transport and Allied Workers‟ Union (SATAWU) and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO). Both associations can be seen as driving for some kind of formalisation of the transport industry. SANTACO is an employers association, with vehicle owners as members. While promoting the business interests of the members by negotiating bulk prices on fuel etc., it also provides a potential platform for collective bargaining with labour.
SATAWU is an affiliate of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), and is a registered trade union. The bulk of SATAWU membership is concentrated in the formal economy, with members in the taxi sector being the exception. The informal members are employees, but their employment usually does not include wage, but is based on other payment arrangements such as a percentage of profits. SATAWU is organizing around several issues including attempting to bring about collective bargaining agreements on local and national levels; addressing the Department of Labour around the question of minimum employment standards; and representing workers who have individual grievances. One of the organizing challenges is to make taxi drivers aware of their status as employees and the rights that this status brings.

Informal Economy Theme
Occupational group
Publication Type