ITF launches powerful new resource for organising precarious workers

10 Jan 2014

100114_Organising precarious transport workers

The ITF launched a new guide on 9 January 2014 to help unions reach out to informal workers.

Organising precarious transport workers, available in English, Arabic, French, German and Spanish, defines and contextualises precarious work. The guide accompanies the ITF organising manual, which is also available on the ITF website.

Precarious jobs are posts where workers are often disguised as ‘self-employed’, or otherwise work indirectly for a company through employment agencies or sub-contractors. Wages and conditions are often lower, to the extent that being in work is no guarantee of stability or improved living standards. The guide explains that women and young people are over-represented among informal workers, with the under 30s often being deliberately targeted by employers for the most precarious and informal jobs.

According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), some 1.5 billion workers worldwide are in vulnerable employment – a compelling reason for unions to reach out and organise informal workers. As Martin Kapombeza of the Transport and General Workers Union, Malawi, says in the guide: “We all have a duty to promote the lives of precarious workers.”

From ideas on making your union’s policies as inclusive as possible to tips about how, when and whether to work with NGOs, the guide provides practical advice to anybody seeking to engage precarious workers in their union work.

Ingo Marowsky, ITF young transport workers coordinator, welcomed the publication of the resource: “As the guide says, this is our battleground. Employers are seeking evermore ‘flexible’ and ‘agile’ workforces – which really means, finding out how to cut costs by lowering standards in work. It is for trade unions to push back at this, particularly during times of economic difficulty. Our young transport workers have made a start on this important work – and this guide shows us how we can all follow suit.”

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