Informal Economy

Zimbabwe, informal economy, worker rights, Solidarity Center

The Solidarity Center assists workers in the informal economy, such as market vendors in Zimbabwe, come together to assert their rights and raise living standards. Credit: ZCIEA

Some 2 billion people work in the informal sector as domestic workers, taxi drivers, and street vendors, many of them women workers. Informal economy work now comprises the majority of jobs in many countries and is increasing worldwide. Although informal economy workers can create up to half of a country’s gross national product, most have no access to health care, sick leave or support when they lose their jobs, and they have little power to advocate for living wages and safe and secure work.

The Solidarity Center is part of a broad-based movement in dozens of countries to help workers in the informal economy come together to assert their rights and raise living standards. For instance, three affiliates of the Central Organization of Trade Unions-Kenya (COTU-K), a Solidarity Center partner, signed agreements with informal worker associations to unionize the workers, enabling them to access to the country’s legal protections for formal-sector employees.

Find out more about informal workers gaining power by joining together in unions and worker associations in this Solidarity Center-supported publication, Informal Workers and Collective Action: A Global Perspective.

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Domestic Workers and Socioeconomic Rights: A South African Case Study (2013)

This report explores the challenges of empowering domestic workers in South Africa through the traditional trade union focus on worker rights, democratic voice and collective action. This Solidarity Center report is part of a multiyear research project, funded by the...
Informal Workers’ Organizing (WIEGO, 2013)

Informal Workers’ Organizing (WIEGO, 2013)

In overviewing self-organizing among such informal economy workers as waste pickers, domestic workers and construction workers, this report finds the lines are increasingly blurred between jobs in the formal and informal economies. This Solidarity Center report is...

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