The transition from the informal to the formal economy: towards the 2015 International Labour Conference

photo: Photo: ©Carsten Snejbjerg

The 104th Session of the International Labour Conference will take place in Geneva on 1- 13 June 2015. The Committee on the Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy is the second year discussion on the adoption of a Recommendation. The draft text and the report can be found here.

When finalised, this will be the first ILO instrument to provide guidance for governments on the transition, as a labour standard addressing the issues of informal work.

Formalising work is a priority for the ITUC

Formalising work worldwide and creating decent jobs is a priority for the ITUC. The challenge is enormous: There are 2.9 billion workers on our planet but only 60% of them have some formal contract of employment and more that 50% of those are in precarious work environments.

The ITUC’s General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, spoke at the International Conference on the Informal Economy in Copenhagen, hosted by the Danish trade union LO and the LO/FTF in April 2015. In her speech, she stressed that the informal economy is the sector of desperation, dominated by women and young people struggling to survive and it is growing. It is withering formal work and formal business and depriving both workers and our economy of the benefits of decent work.

Burrow said the conclusion of the negotiations in June’s ILC for an ILO standard is just the beginning. More needs to be done to ensure that labour laws cover all workers, and workers in the informal economy can benefit from minimum living wages - wages on which people can live with dignity, access universal social protection beginning with the social protection floor, and that unions are open, inclusive and representative of workers in the informal economy.

Further reading and media on informal work

Read this blog post by Buddhi Acharya, International Programme Officer at LO/FTF Council, on the formalisation of salt production workers in India.

Equal Times has produced a series of videos on the informal economy. Watch the videos about waste pickers in Brazil, child labour in India’s gemstone industry, the garment industry in Kyrgyzstan, call centres in Morocco and moto-taxi drivers in Rwanda.

LO/FTF Denmark supported projects addressing decent work and informality over many years and commissioned a series of photo projects on the informal economy. See galleries on the International Conference in Copenhagen, on textile production in Benin, on street kitchens in Accra (Ghana), on textile production in India and on a fashion catwalk.