Informal Workers and Collective Action
A Global Perspective
Informal Workers and Collective Action features nine cases of collective action to improve the status and working conditions of informal workers. Adrienne E. Eaton, Susan J. Schurman, and Martha A. Chen set the stage by defining informal work and describing the types of organizations that represent the interests of informal workers and the lessons that may be learned from the examples presented in the book. Cases from a diverse set of countries—Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Liberia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Uruguay—focus on two broad types of informal workers: "waged" workers, including port workers, beer promoters, hospitality and retail workers, domestic workers, low-skilled public sector workers, and construction workers; and self-employed workers, including street vendors, waste recyclers, and minibus drivers.
These cases demonstrate that workers and labor organizations around the world are rediscovering the lessons of early labor organizers on how to aggregate individuals' sense of injustice into forms of collective action that achieve a level of power that can yield important changes in their work and lives. Informal Workers and Collective Action makes a strong argument that informal workers, their organizations, and their campaigns represent the leading edge of the most significant change in the global labor movement in more than a century.
Martha A. Chen
Martha A. Chen is Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, an affiliated professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Cofounder and International Coordinator of the Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) network. She is coauthor of The Progress of the World's Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty and coeditor of Bridging Perspectives: Labour, Informal Employment, and Poverty.