Worldwide, 2 billion workers perform essential work selling goods in street markets, driving taxis or cleaning homes. The vast majority of these jobs are low wage, with no security and no paid sick leave or health care.
In Nigeria, where more than 80 percent of the population works in informal economy jobs, these workers are joining together to fight for their right to decent work through the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON), a nationwide association with hundreds of branches across the country.
On the first Solidarity Center Podcast this season, Solidarity Center Executive Director and podcast host Shawna Bader-Blau talks with Gbenga, FIWON founder and general secretary. Gbenga describes how informal economy workers are using their collective power, building coalitions with allied organizations and making key gains, like ending evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing unfair, burdensome taxation on vendors and, importantly, winning recognition by government and society that they must have the same rights and respect as all workers.
“Poor working people must have access to basic social security, but it doesn’t start with that,” says Gbenga, who goes by one name. “It starts with even the right to work without fear. The right to work without harassment and unnecessary molestation. The right to access public spaces as commonwealth, as something that belongs to all of us.”
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The Solidarity Center Podcast, “Billions of Us, One Just Future,” highlights conversations with workers (and other smart people) worldwide shaping the workplace for the better.
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This podcast was made possible by the Ford Foundation and the generous support of the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under Cooperative Agreement No.AID-OAA-L-16-00001 and the opinions expressed herein are those of the participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID/USG.