Decent work: Organizing across the formal-informal divide in Kaduna

Project leader

Funding source

Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2009
Funding: 150000 SEK


Small producers and traders dominate employment in Africa. Can trade unions in the formal wage-economy organise those employed in the informal one? What have they to offer? What is in it for them? The informal economy in Africa is made up of a variety of groups with different positions and employment relations and with an organisational tradition of its own (Gallin 2004; War on Want 2006). The organisations of street- and market traders have attracted particular attention, also generating outside support. Many small scale entrepreneurs have organisations for mutual support, in defence against local authorities, and for accessing government credits. Apprentices, family workers, and other ‘employees’, however, rarely have organisations of their own. They depend on informal relations to their ‘Masters’, mostly with poor workplace conditions. Employees in the formal
economy, although fewer in numbers, have been more successful in influencing their workplace. Can they be expected to contribute to improving conditions in the informal
economy or be relegated to being ‘labour aristocrats’ protecting their own privileges (Pillay 2006)? Can organising across the formal-informal divide contribute to the deepening of rulebased and rights-based forms of regulating workplace relations? Our study will explore the scope for diffusing workplace constitutionalism and its relevance for wider processes of institutional upgrading in society. The empirical focus is on the cooperation between the textile workers union and the tailors in Kaduna, Nigeria, drawing on similar efforts elsewhere, including Ghana.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:53