The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Nigeria supported a workshop organized by the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON) in Ibadan and Owerri respectively. The workshop themed Promoting the Socio-Economic Rights of Informal Workers, Issues and Prospects had in attendance selected government officials drawn from key ministries and departments of the State Governments of Ekiti, Oyo, Imo and Rivers States.
Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, General Secretary of FIWON, made presentations on the socio-economic rights of informal workers, the National Social Protection Policy and the Need for Regulated Use of Public Space. Very robust discussions about the inability of informal workers to access their basic socio-economic rights and the wide gaps between policy objectives and the reality of extreme social and economic deprivations suffered by informal workers followed.
Some of the vital issues discussed include the poor management of public spaces, where informal workers operate, which has turned volatile and elitist to the detriment of traders and artisans. There were reports of the previous government’s demolition of several markets and informal workers’ clusters in some states with thousands of people now permanently displaced. Completed and unoccupied markets were poorly and inappropriately designed, and shop rents were expensive. Another discovery is that no state in Nigeria has a structured training programmed for artisans and traders in the areas of Basic Entrepreneurial Skills Development, Technical Skills upgrading and Occupational Health and Safety Training.
The meeting called for the establishment of Informal Sector Negotiating Forum comprising representatives of the independent organizations of informal workers, government officials and relevant civil society organizations. This will ensure that regular meetings for the purpose of engendering traders and artisans’ participation in decision making processes on issues affecting their work and livelihoods; the design, construction, management and operation of markets, abattoirs, sawmills, mechanic villages and other informal workers’ work clusters.