Thursday, September 10, 2009

the informality of the global economy

Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), along with the Inclusive Cities Project, have issued a study that shows how informal workers--more than half the workers of the world--are impacted by the global economic meltdown.
the formal and informal economies are not entirely distinct. In global value chains, production, distribution and employment can fall at different points on a continuum between pure ‘formal’ relations (i.e. regulated and protected) at one pole and pure ‘informal’ relations (i.e. unregulated and unprotected) at the other, with many intermediate categories in between. Workers and units can also move across the formal-informal continuum and/or operate simultaneously at different points along it. These dynamic linkages of the formal and informal economies highlight the importance of understanding the ‘informality’ of the global economy and recession.
According to the report, decreased demand and crashes in commodity prices have made life vastly more difficult for informal workers: 85 percent of recyclers/waste pickers and 62 percent of street vendors have reported losing business in recent months. Three quarters of all informal workers surveyed said that their profits dropped between January and June 2009.

Rather than the traditional prescriptions of 'formalizing the informal,' the report suggests that workers support a more nuanced approach in which government would, among other things:

--support their work
--offer wage protections
--encourage participation in a social safety net
--recognise they are here to stay and stop harassing them

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