By Michael Ndiweni in Turin, Italy
The International Labour Organization is currently hosting a training course on Transition from Informal Economy to Formal Economy targeting over hundred global representatives from governments, labour trade unions and informal economy civil society organizations at the International ILO Training Centre in Turin, Italy. The training began on 12 November 2018 ending 23 November 2018. The training course is anchored on ILO Recommendation 204 that seeks to facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy, while respecting workers’ fundamental rights, ensuring opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship among other issues.
The course equips participants with knowledge on the transition from the informal to the formal economy as well as to engage in constructive dialogue and debate on the future of informality. Africa, Asia, South America and Europe are engaged in advanced thinking around concepts and methodologies for reducing informality in the world with Africa having the largest contingent of over fifty delegates. The training is presenting global participants with an opportunity to exchange lessons on existing practices, and to adopt or adapt lessons learnt to specific country contexts to ensure decent work for all.
Top transition to formal economy experts, statisticians and practitioners from various ILO country offices and other leading international agencies are leading the discussions. Compelling questions such as the diagnostics of informality characteristics, causes, and drivers, circumstances of informality in a national and international context have been interrogated. Global participants have been broken into thematic groups to discuss ideas around extending social protection to workers in the informal economy, dealing with formalization of employment relationship. The next days will examine how macroeconomic and sectoral policies affect informality or the transition to formal economy.
Speaking during the training a researcher from Algeria said that countries cannot integrate informal economies without the political will. While giving a contextual analysis Mr Phillipe Marcadent from ILO said “ You cannot ignore people in the informal economy because are the majority” “60% of population in the world are in the informal economy, women have worst conditions in the informal economy and need special attention, we cannot globalise informal economy because there are wide and different scenarios” he continued . Another expert, Head of Informal Economy Unit – ILO Mr Frederic Lapeyre quizzed participants on how can they make sure that people have decent work and are able to deal with structural transformation.
Some participants however challenged and questioned the motive for formalization and argued that Recommendation 204 seem to be to some extent advancing a neo liberal agenda that will be further burden workers in the informal economy who are facing with problems of declining economies particularly in many African economies.
One of the key fundamentals of Recommendation 204 is that it does not cover illicit activities, in particular the provision of services or the production, sale, possession or use of goods forbidden by law, including the illicit production and trafficking of drugs. The recommendation also does not cover the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, trafficking in persons, and money laundering, as prohibited in the relevant international treaties.
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