Training cum Workshop
on Challenges of Informal Economy for Trade Unions
Organised by Democratic Confederation of
Nepalese Trade unions (DECONT)
27 28 March 2005
In developing countries like Nepal, the major
sector of informal job is agriculture where around 80 percent
of total population is involved. And, they depend on traditional
agriculture as main occupation since the development of industrial
and modern technologies is very slow. At the same time, Nepal
labor market is dominated by informal sector as 96 percent of
labour force is engaged in this sector. The employers of formal
sectors are enthusiastic to convert formal workers into the
informal one. In today's globalized world, the available formal
jobs are also disintegrating into small informal pieces turning
the permanent jobs into contracts and sub-contracts. The main
benefit for the employer is that they will not be responsible
for the extra-welfare of workers engaged in workplace. Not only
that, the skilled labor from cross-boarder are displacing the
native workers. The possibility for further education, skill
promotion and vocational training for the native workers is
extremely poor. Therefore, the trend of employing contract labor
in permanent job is ever increasing and the job opportunities
for the workers are also declining thus pressurizing the flow
of labor in informal economy.
In these circumstances, recognizing hard time
for national economy in general and challenges for trade union
in organizing the informal sector workers in particular, Democratic
Confederation of Nepalese Trade Unions (DECONT) from the very
beginning of its founding is laying stress on organizing the
informal sector economy. DECONT is very much worried about the
question of workers' issuessuch as integration of the
workers of informal sectors into trade union movement, leadership
development, capacity building of women workers and protection
of their rights and welfare, establishing the dignity of workforce
and social security provisions. It believes that keeping the
majority of workers out of trade unions' reach, can make the
union movement weak and deprive the majority of workers from
its benefits. Due to this reason, DECONT is emphasizing the
unionization of workers from informal economy from the beginning.
And, in year 2004, we had also organized a national level consultative
workshop on 'Challenges of Informal Economy for Trade Unions'
in cooperation with FES on 27-28 March 2005 at Jawalkhel, Lalitpur.
Altogether, 40 participants from different affiliated unions
of DECONT and also from district committees took part in the
A brief inaugural session was organized. The
chief guest for the ceremony was Bro. R. B. Raut, President
of DECONT and Bro. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office was
present as special guest. Also presented at the occasion were
Bro. Khila Nath Dahal, General Secretary, Bro. Dhurba Chandra
Gautam, Treasurer and Sister Daniela Hinze. Addressing the ceremony,
Bro. Raut said that union should pay serious attention on organizing
informal sector workers and highlighted the present situation
of informal economy in Nepali context and the challenges faced
by the trade unions. He further said that to reduce the impact
of informal economy, trade union must set themselves free from
political control of parties. Likewise, addressing the inaugural
session Bro. Dev Raj Dahal said that DECONT from the beginning
had started to work for the workers of informal economy and
it is need of time that such efforts and initiation are quite
remarkable for the rights and welfare of workers from informal
economy. He also stated that DECONT should continue to modernize
the trade union movement in the context of rapid technological
and financial globalization. As formal economy is declining
very rapidly, union has additional responsibility to seek new
areas, new issues and renovate its strategies of solidarity
and collective action. Kanowledge, tools and skills must be
modernized to cope with the emerging challenges. Bro. K. N.
Dahal and Bro. D. C. Gautam described about the DECONTs' activities
and policies for integrating workers from informal economy into
trade union movement. Likewise, Sister Daniela Hinze shared
her experience regarding current economic situation in Germany
and impact of that on the workers out there. She explained the
nature of social market economy and what lesions can be learned
After the inaugural session, a brief introduction
session was held where participants, presented guests and resource
persons introduced themselves on the basis of personal as well
as organizational background. Thereafter, formal workshop was
started with session on 'Overview of Informal Economy and Role
of Trade Unions in Nepalese Scenario', which was facilitated
by Bro. Dhurba Chnadra Gautam. He described the background of
informal economy, present situation of workforce in informal
economy, problems of those workers, planning and strategic problems,
opportunities and challenges for trade unions, initiation of
DECONT in informal economy etc. As well as he also put forward
few policy recommendations for socio-economic reforms of the
workers of informal economy. After the deliberation, an open
discussion was held for about 25 minutes in which 13 participants
took part and expressed their grassroots experiences.
The next session of the workshop was on 'Legal
Provisions of Informal economy' that was facilitated by Bro.
Ghanashyam Subedi where he underlined the definition of informal
economy based on legal perspective, data on workers engaged
in different sectors of informal economy, present legal status
of labour or other legislation that to some extent cater the
rights and issues of informal workers. He also discussed about
the existing legislative provisions both national and international
and their shortcomings to address the rights and welfare of
informal workers. He also furnished few recommendations to improve
the workers' status under the informal economy. Thereafter,
an open discussion was held for around 20 minutes and 14 participants
raised their concern on the legal aspects.
The next session of the day was on 'Challenges
of Trade Unions in Informal Economy' that was facilitated by
Sis. Amuda Shrestha. In this session she discussed about some
important challenges thrown by informal economy for trade unions.
Thereafter, a group discussion was designed to collect the ideas
and experience of union leaders regarding challenges informal
economy for them at grass root level. Thereafter, the participants
were divided into four groups and assigned the task to prepare
group reports on the subject matter. The group discussion was
jointly facilitated by Bro. Dahal and Sis. Shrestha.
The first session of the next day was started
with the presentation of group reports on challenges of trade
unions in informal economy. All four groups presented their
group discussions' outcome respectively. The discussion was
also held on the group reports and a number of issues were raised.
The details of group reports are attached at the bottom of report.
After it, next session was started and that was on 'Sharing
experiences in organizing the unorganized', which was facilitated
by Bro. Krishna Prasad Poudel where participants discussed about
how the workers of varied informal sectors could be organized,
capacitated and integrated under trade unions' structure. During
the session he also discussed some examples of successful organizing
strategies for informal workers in other countries as well as
collected the participants' views about how we can enhance our
capacities and integrate the informal sectors into a viable
framework and contribute to its sound development.
The next session of the program was on "DECONTs'
Policies and Organizing Strategies for Informal Sectors"
and this session was facilitated by Bro. Khila Nath Dahal. During
the session he briefed about the policies adopted by DECONT
to organize the informal workers and also activities carried
out by DECONT in this aspect through different national unions.
He also discussed about the efforts of DECONT to strengthen
the capacity building of such national unions. It has been also
discussed about possible strategy to organize more and more
workers from such sectors to make the trade union movement much
democratic, stronger and inclusive. Thereafter an open discussion
was held for around 25 minutes and 22 participants took part
sharing their experiences.
The last session of the workshop was on "Developing
Future Action Plan for Organizing Unorganized Workers of Informal
Economy." It was primarily a brainstorming session where
participants were asked to develop an action-oriented workplan
to organize informal sector workers in their respective unions.
The session was facilitated by Bro. Dahal and Bro. Poudel. For
the group discussion the participants were divided into four
groups and following tasks were assigned to them for possible
- List out the priority sectors under informal
- Chalk out the possible
activities of unions to meet the challenges.
- Define the target groups for organizing.
After the group discussion and report preparation,
the report was summed up by Bro. Dahal. The summary of the Action
Plan is presented hereunder. Thereafter, a brief closing session
was held where some central committee members of DECONT as well
as Bro. Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office spotlighted
some relevant ideas. They all hoped that the formulated action
plan could help to tap those opportunities.
Group Discussion 2:
Workplan for organizing
informal sectors' workers
- Identify workers
- Keeping records of workers
- Raise awareness on TU rights, workers' rights, gender
- Provide trade union education
- Train about importance of organization Enroll into
and increase membership
- Create skill manpower
- Emphasize the use of modern agricultural tools
- Give information on OSH/PPE, HIV-AIDS.
- Pressurize for the benefits of social security, insurance.
- Health checkup facilities.
- Campaign/Action against use of child labour.
- Vocational/skill upgrading trainings.
- Income generating activities.
Respective Affiliated Unions in cooperation
Group Discussion: 1
Outcomes of Group Discussion
on Challenges of Informal Economy for Trade Unions
Role of DECONT
|No legal recognition to workers
of informal economy for organizing.
||Amend in labour act and implement
it in informal economy also.
|No salary/wage determined
by labour act.
||Pressurize government to
implement labour act.
|No mechanism for registration
of informal sectors' workers.
||Registration of workers should
|Lack of skill
training and skill manpower.
manpower providing skill development trainings.
||Support and manage
|No social security and insurance
||Social security and insurance
should be provided.
|Informalization of limited
providing protection by state.
|Lack of wide labour market
||Create wider labour market
|No opportunities for collective
||Collective bargaining opportunities
should be ensured.
||Play the role of mediators
|Inequality in wages
||Provide equal wages eliminating
|Wide contracting system
||Contracting system must be
|Lack of collectivity
||Unify the scattered labour
|No information regarding
||Appropriate trainings must
|Wide use of child labour
||Complete elimination of child
labour through implementation of laws.
||Pressurize and create awareness
|Uncertainty in works.
||State should provide informal
education for informal workers.
||Bring informal workers under
unions' framework and provide trade union education.
|Beyond the periphery of labour
||Unite to pressurize state.
||Trade union should
widely pressurize for managing minimum wage, working hour,
registration etc of informal workers.
|Lack of workers' registration.
||Wages should be determined
based on time/market situation.
|Not getting minimum benefits
determined by labour act.
||Integrate workers from informal
sectors under trade unions' umbrella.
||To aware them on social,
economical and political aspect Awareness programme should
|Lack of determination of
certain standards on migrant workers.
||Carry out awareness raising
||Health checkup of workers
must done quarterly.
||Strict criteria for giving
permission for the establishment of enterprises and monitoring
them basically on the issues of workers' benefits and rights
||Pressurize state for solving
the problems of informal workers identifying their problems,
challenges and means for their solutions.
|Lack of Education.
||There should be national
policy to increase employment for poverty eradication and
that must have strong implementation side.
||Easy available and well management
of education and health facilities for the children of informal
|Lack of Maternity Protection
||Free education upto secondary
||Workers must have representation
while formulating labour policy and in implementing it
|No facility of child care
||Contractors must be registered
||Acceptance of trade unions
must sought of trade unions while contracting.
||Self-employing training must
provide followed by loan for trained personnel.
||Facilities of loans for trained
self-employed workers through recommendation of trade unions
||There must be childcare center
at VDC/Municipality and labour policy must address the issues
regarding maternity protection.
||Identify skills at local
||The revenue collected from
the workers must be expended on their social security.
||Create pressure to reform
||Trade unions must have representation
while expending revenue for workers' social security.
||Represent workers while formulating
legislation for informal workers and pressurize for implementation.