Worker Organisation and Social Protection amongst Informal Petty Traders in Tanzania

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Abstract

This paper investigates how the global social protection (SP) agenda touches down in thecontext of petty traders in Tanzania. It examines and compare the SP models conceptualizedand implemented ‘from above’ by public authorities with what petty traders and theircollective associations do on the ground ‘from below’. The data shows that SP offered bypublic channels do not correspond well with the key challenges experienced byinformal traders. First, petty traders are in public discourses conceptualized as smallbusinesses - not as workers. This correlates with an understanding of work-related SP(like unemployment benefit, paid maternity leave, severance pay, work-injury compensationetc.) as pertaining to people in formal employment only. Nonetheless, our data indicate,that the SP needs of informal traders cannot be separated from their work relatedchallenges (such as unhealthy working environments and irregular income). Second,voice and representation is not considered part of SP and people in the informaleconomy are generally not seen as collective political actors who should have access torepresentation in their own right. Our data however, shows that help with negotiatingwith authorities (with regards to access to trading space, harassment or eviction) is ofkey importance to petty traders. Third, while there is an opening towards enablinginclusion of informal workers in less directly-work related SP such as health insuranceand old age pensions, the schemes which are elaborated (or planned) are simply adjustedversions of existing schemes modeled on the needs and abilities of formal workersdemanding regular and long term commitment. SP services are however also offered byinformal traders own associations and though the specific services vary a lot betweenassociations, they generally correspond quite closely to the key challenges experienced byinformal traders. In contrast to the public SP models, the SP models employed byinformal traders own associations are based on trust and reciprocity and directedtowards flexible but also limited cushioning against more short-term needs.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRoskilde University
PublisherCAE ⋅ Center of African Economies
Edition4
Volume2020
Number of pages79
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7349-589-6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2020

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