More than 60 worker advocates shared strategies for empowering workers, especially women and young workers, trapped in informal economy jobs during last week’s World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia. Sponsored by the National Youth Workers Commission of the General Union of Tunisian Workers, (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT), together with the Solidarity Center, the workshop brought together representatives of European, Asian and Arab civil society organizations.
During the half-day workshop, the Youth Workers Commission shared a report on informal economy workers in Tunisia the UGTT released last year. The report found that 67 percent of Tunisian workers in the informal economy do not benefit from social protections such as paid sick leave, and pointed out that the informal economy is growing, accounting for 38 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, compared with 30 percent in 2010.
Workshop participants suggested the need for employers, workers and the government to work together to define a new development model; reform programs covering social protections; and encourage a sense of citizenship among workers and employers in the informal economy. The workshop also served to build and strengthen alliances between civil society organizations and trade unions.
Some 70,000 participants, representing more than 4,000 organizations took part in the World Social Forum. The five-day event serves as an annual counterweight to the Davos World Economic Forum, where top political leaders and business elites meet to discuss economic issues.