The Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA), in partnership with other key stakeholders, has launched a 5-year “decent work national programme” to address issues facing workers in the informal sector.
This is a timely initiative in a sector that employs 91 per cent of the working population in the country. The informal sector faces several challenges like exploitation, poor pay, long working hours, poor working conditions and working without contracts.
Addressing the issues in the sector is critical if sustainable national development is to be achieved under the Seven-Year National Strategy for Transformation and Government efforts to create 215,000 off farm jobs annually.
However, implementation of this initiative should be based on broad consultation to ensure that the key issues affecting workers in the informal sector are resolved within the timeframe of the project. With wide consultations, it will be easy to come up with sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the sector.
If implemented effectively, the project will go a long away in ensuring that workers’ rights are respected and that employers understand their obligations.
This will, in turn, ensure productivity and better working conditions in line with international labour standards.
It will also boost the National Strategy for Transformation agenda, which is anchored on the premise that decent work is central to people’s well-being.
It is also in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets, especially Pillar 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Like Eric Manzi, the Secretary General of workers trade union CESTRAR noted, the programme was long overdue and would bring about positive impact.
The situation of workers in the informal sector and there is need to fully enforce regulations that will ensure decent work.
The authorities should also consider punitive measures for employers in informal sector that don’t respect the rights of employees.