StreetNet presentation to Plenary

Juliana Afari-Brown, Vice-President of StreetNet, will make an intervention in the plenary session of the ILC commenting on the opening address of the Director-General on labour migration.

5 June 2014

StreetNet is an international federation of 52 organisations of street vendors, informal market vendors and hawkers in 46 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Eastern Europe, representing 588 709 paid-up members. Because of lack of appropriate policies and regulations at local, national and cross-border level, this sector of workers in the informal economy face problems of often being perceived as illegal - while they try to earn their living by means of completely lawful economic activities.

StreetNet participated in the Committee on Migrant Workers in the Global Economy in the 92nd session of the Conference in 2004. In relation to the report of the Director General on migration, StreetNet represents a particular group of migrant workers who experience a high level of marginalization and criminalization on daily basis - and that is informal cross-border traders, the majority of whom are women. They face problems at the borders, and once they have crossed the borders, they join other street vendors and informal traders who face daily problems of persecution and discrimination in public spaces in cities and towns.

These workers face the following challenges:

  1. Lack of accessible information on trade protocols;
  2. Lack of facilities at border posts for traders in transit;
  3. Harrassment of women in transit at border posts;
  4. Corruption by officials at border posts;
  5. Language barriers - so traders are unable to understand legal requirements of trading in other states;
  6. High customs tariffs and double taxation because of lack of simplified processes;
  7. Lack of market infrastructure for informal cross border traders;
  8. Lack of recognition of the role of women in informal cross-border trade;
  9. Lack of policies that address the challenges faced by women;
  10. Complicated registration processes for associations of informal cross-border traders;
  11. Difficulty in movement of informal cross border traders and their goods;
  12. Complicated customs and immigration requirements.

StreetNet wishes to draw attention to the role that governments would need to embrace in implementation of programmes for the establishment of an enabling environment for smooth cross border trade and guaranteed sustainable livelihoods and poverty eradication:

  • stopping harassment of informal traders by police and authorities;
  • simplification of customs documentation, and translation of these documents into national languages;
  • establish Trade Information Desks at border posts;
  • establish facilities at border posts for traders in transit;
  • simplification of customs tariffs and elimination of double taxation;
  • legal reforms that will enable married women to get access to credit facilities;
  • creation of market infrastructures for informal cross-border traders at national level;
  • enhance safety and security measures for women at border posts.

StreetNet urges governments to engage in extensive and effective social dialogue with objective of:

  • being fully accountable to their civil society constituents;
  • improving levels of transparency about trade and development decisions;
  • engaging the participation of the most vulnerable workers in the solutions at all levels, including across borders.

Such social dialogue should complement other levels of collective bargaining and social dialogue (i.e. bipartite, tripartite, multi-partite, local, national and international) with all social partners, including organized informal economy workers. StreetNet's participation in this discussion is in response to the strong message of our members who have been excluded for so long from inclusive policies and processes: "Nothing for us without us!"

I thank you.

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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