Worker Experts’ Final Statement

Tripartite Meeting of Experts on Facilitating Transitions from the Informal to the Formal Economy (16-20 September 2013)

The worker experts consider the conclusions of the 2002 General Discussion on the informal economy as an important starting point on which to further build the discussion. We note however that since 2002, several countries have developed interesting initiatives aimed at facilitating the transition from informal to formal economy and that there have been new international agreements on the issue which are extremely relevant for the adoption of a new ILO instrument including:

  • The 17th international conference of labour statisticians which in 2003 adopted guidelines concerning a statistical definition of informal employment
  • ILO Recommendation 202 on social protection floors (2012),
  • ILO Recommendation 198 on the employment relationship (2006)
  • ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers (2011)
  • ILO Recommendation 193 on the promotion of cooperatives (2002)
    • We support the integrated approach presented by the Office on “decent work strategies for the transition to formality” (on page 13 of the English report) and believe that the proposed instrument should address and provide guidance on its 7 identified areas. In particular we stress the importance of job centred macroeconomic policies that enable the creation of formal jobs in formal enterprises.

    • The proposed instrument should recognise the diversity of actors in the informal economywhich include economic units, the self-employed (a majority of whom are own-account workers striving for survival with a small minority being entrepreneurs) and wage workers working informally and whose rights are denied.

    • We firmly believe that the proposed instrument must address informality at work in both formal and informal enterprises.

    • Extending rights and protection to all workers in the informal economy is a key aspect of the transition. At a minimum, the proposed instrument should provide guidance to achieve the following 4 objectives:

      • Ensure that workers in the informal economy can effectively exercise their rights to organise and bargain collectively as well as their other fundamental rights at work.

      • Ensure adequate protection of informal economy workers by extending the scope of labour laws to categories of workers traditionally excluded (e.g. domestic workers, home workers, agricultural workers) and/or by amending the law so as to cover the full range of relationships under which work is performed.

      • Provide paid maternity leave to women working in the informal economy so that they don’t have to work following delivery. The proposed instrument should also address the issue of child care as a priority given the overrepresentation of women in the informal economy.

      • Extend coverage of social protection to all workers in the informal economy through social assistance and/or social insurance mechanisms.

    • The proposed instrument should address informality in the global supply chain and provide guidance to ensure that sub-contracted workers are not deprived of their right and that they earn a living wage.

    • Informality might also arise as a result of poor enforcement and compliance with existing laws and regulations. The proposed instrument should therefore provide guidance to strengthen the role of labour inspection (including an increase of the number of inspectors) in the transition towards formality. It should be careful in striking the right balance between incentives and disincentives to encourage compliance with laws and regulations.

    • The proposed instrument should provide guidance to promote solidarity based economy, in line with ILO Recommendation N°193 while recognizing that cooperatives, mutual aid schemes, social enterprises, are primary vehicles to improve the working and living conditions of vulnerable population groups, thus facilitating the transition to the formal economy.

    • The proposed instrument should identify tripartism as a key mechanism for the transition from informal to formal economy. It should provide guidance to ensure an active participation of the most representative workers and employers’ organisations, which should include representatives of membership-based and representative organisations of workers in the informal economy in their rank.

    • The proposed instrument should provide that national plans on the transition from informal to formal economy be formulated, implemented and regularly assessed on a tripartite basis.

    • The proposed instrument should provide guidance on strengthening national data collection systems so that quality labour market information can adequately inform policy debates and assess the progress achieved.

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