SI Committee discusses Informal Labour at ILO in Geneva

5-6 November 2009

The Socialist International Committee on Economic Policy, Labour and National Resources met on 5-6 November at the headquarters of the International Labour Organisation ILO in Geneva, focussing its discussions on Informal Labour.

Participating in the meeting along with the Committee Chair Christoph Zopel (SPD, Germany) and SI Secretary General Luis Ayala were members from Bulgaria, France, Greece, Palestine, Russian Federation, Sweden and Tunisia. From the ILO participated the Director-General Juan Somavia along with several experts.

The ILO Director-General warmly welcomed the Committee and thanked the SI for the issues on its agenda, which were at the heart of understanding different development models. Without answers for people working in the informal sector there is no real answer to development. He particularly referred to the ILO Global Jobs Pact from June 2009, aimed at creating jobs, protecting workers and stimulating economic recovery, a portfolio of policy options and a document of the actors of the real economy, outlining what needed to be done to put right the `mess' created by the actors of the financial economy.

The discussions of the Committee covered wide-ranging aspects of informal labour and its implications in different regions of the world. While this is an ever growing segment of the world's labour markets, there remains great concern in the social democratic movement over the lack of social security mechanisms and the increasing vulnerability of this work force with the consequent repercussions on social and economic development.

Participants exchanged views on the content of a Discussion Paper by the Committee - Linking Labour with Social Integration and Social Protection Globally. An important source for the debate was the comprehensive OECD report on unprotected informal labour “Is informal normal”, published by its Development Centre from 2009. This Discussion Paper forms part of the Committee's ongoing work for the coming period, and it was agreed to make it available to the SI Council for information.

The Committee's work at this meeting also included the discussion and preparation of a draft resolution - The Challenges of Global Development at the End of 2009 and the Perspectives for 2010 - The Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Dimensions - for the upcoming meeting of the Council of the Socialist International in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on 23- 24 November.