South African National Day of action against Labour Brokers: Call for strengthening the Social Solidarity Economy

5 March 2012

In solidarity with COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) StreetNet International calls on organisations of street vendors and informal traders in South Africa to unite with the rest of the South African working class in observing a National Day of Action against the use of Labour Brokers on Wednesday 7th March 2012.

In most countries of the world, job loss is increasing at alarming levels as a result of adverse economic and market policies imposed for decades by the global neoliberal system, forcing between 30 to 70 percent of its economically-active population to seek work in what is known as the Informal Economy, for example as street vendors or self-employed workers. The working and living conditions of most of these workers are precarious, in conditions of extreme poverty and without any technical, financial and social assistance from the state, and the majority in this sector are women who are breadwinners who support their families.

Despite such adverse conditions, such workers maintain their working activity, avoiding partial or total unemployment through micro and small enterprises, producing and offering a variety of goods and services, as well as handicrafts and basic consumer products. This sector of the informal economy, street vendors or self-employed workers, despite the adversities in which they work, plays an important role in the economies of their countries through the positive impact they have on coping with unemployment, contributing to the GDP and social stability, to the point of forming a new economic sector that is governed by principles and values of social responsibility, entrepreneurship and solidarity, which is vital to the development of democracy and economic citizenship – known as the Social Solidarity Economy.

StreetNet international believes that Labour Brokers only intensify the vulnerability of workers in the informal economy, who find themselves working under highly exploitative conditions for labour brokers who feed off the desperation of the working poor.

It is more appropriate to put resources and energy into transforming the informal economy into a strengthened Social Solidarity Economy whose values are consistent with the objectives of social inclusion, decent work, training and reintegration of disadvantaged persons, and which provides substantial social innovation, supporting people who face difficulties in finding individual solutions to social problems and quality of family life, and gives them the capability of taking care of their minor children and older relatives in a non-discriminatory environment of equality for all.

Instead of trying to regulate labour brokers, we call on government to work together with all workers in the formal as well as the informal sectors of the economy to build a sustainable Social Solidarity Economy in which people are more important than profits.

Pat Horn
International Co-ordinator

Tel 031 307 4038 (w)
031 201 3528 (h)
076 706 5282 (cel)

e-mail: (w) (h)

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INDIA. DP is irreparable, scrap it, say activists. Times of India (10 April 2015).

TANZANIA. College plans to identify trade opportunities for hawkers. Daily News (10 April 2015)  by Ludovick Kazoka.

INDIA. No street vendors, cycle rickshaws in Lajpat Nagar market: NGT. Zee News (8 April 2015) by PTI. New Delhi:

BOTSWANA. EDD is the way to go. Mmegi Online (8 April 2015).

USA. Five Courses: Hawkers' street food flair & more. Creative Loafing Tampa Bay (8 April 2015) by Meaghan Habuda.

INDIA. Hawkers may be allowed near Rishi Kapoor, Anil Ambani's Pali Hill residences. DNA India (8 April 2015) by Amrita Nayak Dutta.

ABU-DHABI. Abu Dhabi Municipality raid scares away street hawkers. Gulf News (7 April 2015).

SINGAPORE. Hawker centres to be spruced up with murals and art installations. Channel News Asia (5 April 2015) by Vimita Mohandas.

MALAYSIA. 'Development will be inclusive'. The Star Online (3 April 2015).

INDIA. 'Street vendors denied right to livelihood'. The Hindu (1 April 2015) by K.N. Umesh.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa: Xenophobic Violence in KZN - 'This Is a Black Easter for Foreigners'.

SINGAPORE. Singapore street food: stewed, sliced and steamed - video.

USA. Street vendors press city to legalize their trade.

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