Organizing in the Informal Economy: A Challenge for Trade Unions. International Politics and Society

Christine Bonner, Dave Spooner
  • Article Title: Organizing in the Informal Economy: A Challenge for Trade Unions.
  • Title of Journal: International Politics and Society
  • Vol #: IPG 2/11

This paper provides an overview of political organising in the informal economy, with a specific focus on the possibilities for trade unions to organise informal workers. Two common strategic issues around which organizing can occur are discussed: labour rights and representation, and economic/business development. Organizations often combine the two, and it is not uncommon that a union forms a cooperative or that a cooperative addresses political issues. The paper brings up several organizational models, including trade unions that extend their reach into the informal economy; unions formed by informal workers; cooperatives; non-governmental organizations; member based organizations; and community-based organizations. Furthermore international networks of informal workers‟ associations are discussed. The paper also discusses the international trade union movement and the informal economy. Through a wide range of examples it is shown that international union movement is realising the importance of organizing people in the informal economy who have traditionally been outside of the reach of union membership.

Informal Economy Theme
Publication Type