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.

Emergent Solidarities: Labor Movement Responses to Migrant Workers in the Dominican Republic and Jordan (Rutgers, 2013)

This report explores examples of unions making significant change in their approaches to migrant worker organizing and how the Solidarity Center has played a role in shifting union thinking about migrant workers and supporting union engagement and activities. Part one...

Current State of the Informal Economy in Tunisia as Seen through Its Stakeholders: Facts and Alternatives (June 2014)

A new Solidarity Center study takes a close look at the factors fueling the massive growth of Tunisia’s informal economy, and recommends actions to help shift workers in the precarious informal sector to jobs with health coverage and other social benefits. Download...

Trade Union Organizing in the Informal Economy: A Review of the Literature on Organizing in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Western, Central and Eastern Europe (Rutgers, 2013)

This report reviews the literature of efforts throughout the globe by workers who labor outside the formal labor economy of their countries to form or join trade unions as well as unions’ efforts to organize and represent them. This Solidarity Center report is part of...
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