More than 60% of the world’s employed population – that is, 2 billion women, men and youth – earn their livelihoods in the informal economy.
Few workers choose the informal economy. Workers trapped in these exploitive conditions lack social protections and employment related benefits, and they are twice as likely as workers with regular employment to live in poverty. Women are disproportionately the labourers of the informal economy and the economic and social justice they deserve requires the removal of the barriers to decent and formal work.
On February 21 – World Day of Social Justice 2022 – Unifor joins the United Nations and Global Civil society to focus on the injustices of the informal economy, and we call for the implementation of the International Labor Organization’s recommendation on Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy (ILO Recommendation 204).
In its call to action on Social Justice Day, the United Nations underscored that the social problems of the informal economy are accentuated by disasters and in particular have been worsened by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Informal work is a global problem, including in the developed world where globalization and unbridled capitalism is resulting in new forms of informal work and non-standard work. While Canada is on record voting to support ILO Recommendation 204, little has been done to address these issues in the face of rising precariousness and inequality in Canada. Recent studies have shown that a quarter or more of all jobs in Canada are “non-standard” and 8% of workers are employed in the so-called digital gig economy. Canadian governments have failed these workers who deserve recognition and the protection of labour law, including a free and fair pathway to unionization.
Unifor salutes the global organizers and advocates for the dignity of work who struggle against the super exploitation of the informal economy. Through the work of the Unifor Social Justice Fund (SJF) and worker-to-worker solidarity, we recommit to achieving decent work for all. In Canada, Unifor will expand its efforts to support and organize precarious workers, casual and gig workers who are excluded from the social protections they deserve.
Since 1990, the SJF has supported more than 1,100 projects in Canada and 46 other countries.
Through the fund, Unifor supports strong human rights – standing in solidarity with people in countries where political repression weakens worker’s voices and threatens their human rights.
Along with many global unions such as IndustriALL, International Transport Workers Federation and UNI Global Union, Unifor supports work to establish and reinforce labour and gender rights – including the right to form independent labour unions, the right to work safely and the creation of decent working conditions in Countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Bangladesh.
The SJF also builds partnerships to provide support and work in solidarity with many respected organizations in Canada and around the world.