Unprotected labour: What role for unions in the informal economy?

Labour Education 2002/2 No. 127: An ILO study published 30 years ago noted the emergence of a group of workers and small enterprises operating outside the mainstream economy. The report referred to them as the “informal sector”. At the time it was presumed that the informal sector was a transitory phenomenon associated with lower levels of economic development, something that would disappear as development occurred. This presumption has however been proven incorrect. A greater number of workers than ever before are now working outside the “formal” economy and they are engaged in an increasingly diverse range of activities and situations.