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Law & Informality Highlights

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Dear Colleague,
We're excited to share the latest edition of WIEGO's Law Programme Newsletter which includes highlights from our work over the last six months.

We also wanted to take the opportunity to share that we're updating how we communicate with you. Going forward, we'll be sending you updates from our team every three months. On an alternating basis, our Law Programme newsletters will feature: 1) highlights from our work; and 2) the latest research and insights about law and informality. If you have any feedback, please let us know by responding to the email!
Homeworkers in garment supply chains: Supporting our network members
As retail slowed in Europe due to the COVID-19 crisis, brands and retailers “abandoned” millions of workers in their supply chains. Workers, including subcontracted homeworkers, were left without wages, including for work already completed. WIEGO, together with HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet South East Asia, supports homeworker organizations  and works to ensure their inclusion in the global discourse on brands’ responsibility for workers in their supply chains.
Webinars with homeworker organizations and leaders
Between July and September 2020, we held 7 webinars with homeworker organizations and leaders from 11 Asian countries. Topics ranged from the effects of COVID-19 on homeworkers’ livelihoods to using international legal instruments  for local and global advocacy. The webinars aimed to strengthen organizations’ understanding of supply chain dynamics that determine homeworkers’ terms and conditions of work, and to build solidarity between homeworkers organizations as well as with trade unions and civil society organizations active in the garment sector. Partners included the Clean Clothes Campaign, the Centre for Global Workers’ Rights, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, and the Workers’ Rights Consortium. This work is supported by a grant from DFID. See full project details.
WIEGO and allies issue joint statement calling on brands to provide relief for all garment workers
In July 2020, WIEGO, the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), HomeNet South Asia (HNSA) and HomeNet South East Asia (HNSEA) signed a joint statement calling on global brands to extend a one-time Supply-chain Relief Contribution (SRC) to all workers in their garment supply chains. The SRC should equal two per cent of the brand’s total orders from each factory over the previous year and is payable directly to workers, as compensation for 60 days of work lost due to COVID-19.  AFWA is currently negotiating with specific brands.

To learn more about homework during COVID-19 read, "The world’s most vulnerable garment workers aren’t in factories – and global brands need to step up to protect them" by Marlese von Broembsen, Director of WIEGO’s Law Programme.
Sensitizing EU policymakers on subcontracted homeworkers in global supply chains
EU policy makers and member states are preparing to adopt an EU Directive on mandatory human rights due diligence in supply chains, making their sensitization on informal workers in global supply chains all the more relevant. On 2 September, Marlese von Broembsen participated in a webinar for EU policymakers and member states on "Responsible Business Conduct for Children Open Expert Discussion: Strengthening EU Policy Measures to Address Business Impact on Children’s Rights in Business Operations and Supply Chains.”  The meeting was hosted by UNICEF and the German Foreign Office, in the context of Germany's 2020 EU Council Presidency. UNICEF wrote that Marlese’s presentation “provided a deep-dive into the often invisible sphere of informal work and the impact on children – making it clear that this dimension of the workforce, which often makes up a majority in global supply chains, has to be addressed in any policy measures regarding responsible business conduct”.
Laws and regulations in response to the COVID-19 crisis
The impact of "COVID-19 laws" on informal workers
In April 2020, we started collecting and collating the laws, regulations and policies that 85 countries adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are analyzing these laws to determine whether and how they recognize and protect informal workers. For example,  do they identify informal workers as essential, or mandate occupational health and safety measures for markets and public spaces?  See  our latest edition of “Law and Informality Insights”, which discusses initial findings on the impact of COVID-19 laws on domestic workers and informal traders.  Key research findings will be presented at the Third African Labour Law Society Conference in November 2020 and an article on domestic workers by Pamhidzai Bamu, WIEGO Law Programme’s Africa Coordinator, has been accepted for a special COVID-19 edition of the International Labour Review.  A second round of research is almost complete and we will be disseminating findings through three regional updates on Africa, Asia and Latin America. 
Rights-based social protection in Africa
This research project on social protection and “COVID-19-response laws” in Africa covers 20 Anglophone and 20 Francophone African countries. Our aim is to identify good practices that could form the basis for more inclusive social protection systems that are responsive to the needs of informal workers. The research, to be completed in January 2021, will be used by WIEGO and StreetNet International to provide online training and capacity building for organizations of informal workers and will be made available to a wide range of stakeholders. The project is being implemented together with WIEGO’s Social Protection Programme and under the auspices of a partnership between the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung-African Labour Research Network-, the International Trade Union-Confederation (ITUC) Africa and Women in Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) focused on Rights-Based Social Protection  in Africa.
Global Labour University Massive Open Online Courses
Exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on informal workers: challenges, strategies & solutions
Marlese von Broembsen was a course instructor for two MOOCs offered by the Global Labour University, bringing a focus on informal workers.
  • POST CORONA STARTS NOW, which supports the global debate on policy solutions and strategies to address the main challenges exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19. 
  •  GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS IN TIMES OF COVID-19, which provides unionists, scholars, and practitioners from around the world with critical knowledge on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers in global supply chains and labour’s response to protect workers. The course also explores key questions in rethinking global supply chains.
Advisory work on legal and policy reform
Technical legal support to Jamaican and South African workers' organizations
We provided technical legal support to Jamaican and South African workers’ organizations that were invited  by their governments to participate in law and policy reform processes. In particular:
  • We assisted  the Jamaican Household Workers’ Union  with  their submission on the Occupational Health and Safety Bill that was initially tabled in parliament in April 2017, but was not finalized before the dissolution of the 2016-2020 Parliament. It will be re-tabled before the newly elected Parliament.
  • We supported a coalition of informal economy organizations in South Africa with their submission on the government’s draft Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
Administrative Justice and the informal economy
Informal trading and access to public space in Senegal: Comparing the law on the books with the law on the ground
In January 2020, we launched a research project in Dakar, Senegal, to understand how the laws that regulate informal traders’ access to public space are implemented on the ground. In partnership with WIEGO’s Dakar Focal City Team, we held focus groups with workers’ organizations and we interviewed  workers and public authorities. The research was interrupted due to the COVID-19 health crisis, and will resume as soon as we will be able to conduct in person meetings.

To learn more about our work with lawyers in Dakar, read “In Dakar, lawyers experience informal workers’ daily lives and rethink policy”, by Teresa Marchiori and Olga Abizaid.
"Informal Traders: Know the Law" Workshop in Accra, Ghana
As part of our administrative justice training program, we held an “Informal Traders: Know the Law” Workshop in Accra, Ghana, on  February 5-7, 2020. The workshop  aimed to build the capacity of the Greater Accra Markets Association (GAMA) and Informal Hawkers and Vendors Association of Ghana (IHVAG) and their members to use administrative justice  to defend their livelihoods.
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