Sadness, Grief, and Uncertainty... Millions lost with huge fire in the Terminal Market, Guatemala City

Market vendor viewing the disaster caused by the fire. Photo Credit: Santiago Billy PremGUATEMALA CITY. The largest wholesale market in Central America, with over 4,500 tenants, was largely destroyed by a devastating fire on 25 March 2014, shattering the lives of thousands of self/employed vendors and their families.
It is estimated that about 3,000 people visit it daily since it is possible to find variety of products and is located in the heart of the capital city.

Around 1600 stalls were destroyed by the fire, consuming all the products that were stored in these sections of the market. The disastrous situation becomes tragic when we consider that many of the tenants are now unable to trade, not only lacking vending space but also having to recover their capital and selling products. This is a big blow to the Guatemalan people's economy; many merchants are migrants from rural areas who have sought better opportunities for living and working in the city. Right now they cannot use the facilities and many sellers think this tragedy could have been avoided and even many businesses saved if there had been enough water to stop the initial fire, but the fire fighting operation continued for almost 12 hours.

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Call for Support

As an Organization of Self-employed Workers of Guatemala, we empathise with vendors affected by the raging fire which destroyed the La Terminal Market market at zone 4 of Guatemala City. This central market housed an approximately 1600 formal tenants and a similar number of sellers in the surrounds without taking into account hawkers. In this tragedy over 3000 self-employed vendors have lost the product of their efforts, gained with great sacrifice, as well as their income to support their families, leaving many workers in debt. The incident has to be carelessness or malicious behaviour.

In this time of crisis we hope that "politicians and government" do not take advantage of this situation because it is not just to play with the pain and suffering of those affected.

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"Transitioning from the Informal to Formal Economy" Africa Regional Consultation Workshop - A way forward for Informal workers

The African Regional Consultation Workshop was held on the 13 -14 March at the COSATU house in Johannesburg. The intention of the workshop was to prepare informal workers on the discussions that will take place at the International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in May-June this year. The workshop was organised by Women in Informal Employment, Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). The COSATU Vulnerable Workers Task Team hosted the workshop.

Representatives from the International Domestic Workers Federation give a thumbs up for the WIEGO Workshop. They imparted valuable advice based on their own experiences

Of course there was shopping! Pictured from left is Thandiwe Xulu, from SASWEA, South Africa. She also trades. Loving the bead work is Inviolata Chinyangarara, a senior specialist in worker activities in the ILO

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Miranda Mandaria discusses women`s rights in informal sector of Georgia

Ms. Miranda Mandaria, the chairwoman of Self-Employed and Commercial workers union and GTUC Woman Network Coordinator, Eter Matureli discuss women`s rights in the program "geography of labor". They talk about the difference between the public sector employed woman and their labor rights and the informal sector employed woman labor rights. Although the changes which were made in labor code, they are a number of problems.

The changes of labor code fail to protect the rights of employed woman properly, that`s why it`s needed to ratify the ILO Convention 183 and to comply Georgian legislation with the ILO Conventions 100 and 111 which have been already ratified by country and which will help women to protect their rights of motherhood as long as they having better conditions during pregnancy and afterwards.

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies