Monday, 18 July 2011

StreetNet and NASVI New Manifesto Regional Campaign Planning Workshop 8-9 July 2011 New Delhi

Participants at the New Manifesto workshop
The National Association of Street Vendors of India on behalf of StreetNet International organised the second of a series of regional planning workshops for the New Manifesto Campaign. The workshop was held in New Delhi on 8th-9th July and brought together representatives of street vendors’ associations from Bangladesh, Korea, Nepal, and India.  The objective of the workshop was to improve campaigning skills, develop national action plans around the New Manifesto and explore possible region wide actions around the New Manifesto.

The workshop commenced with participants sharing some examples of successful campaigns. In Bangladesh, for example, the Self Employed Union has around 2000 members in Dhaka.  There is a constant struggle around vending sites, with the police moving vendors on.  In one such struggle, a vendor was tragically killed and after this incident, the vendors, the trade unions and some NGOs came together and created a human chain movement.  They called for a response from the government and finally, the government agreed to allocate some sites where vendors and sit and sell their goods.
Bangladesh participants at workshop

 In Nepal, NEST (the National Association of Street Vendors) explained that since 2008, the government began to evict thousands of vendors from Kathmandu, so they started to organise a campaign of protest and threatened that all the markets would close in protest. After that, the Kathmandu mayor agreed to talk to them and promised that within 6 months, the municipality would draw up a vendors’ policy.  However, that time has passed and the government still continues to evict vendors in the interests of widening streets and making the city more beautiful.  So NEST will need to start to campaign again.

NASVI explained that in India they have been running different campaigns for the last 12 years.  The current major campaign is to press for the adoption of a Central Law for Street Vendors. In March and April 2011, NASVI launched a post card campaign. All the member organisations of NASVI were asked to send post cards to the National Minister of Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation calling for the Central law. Over 2 million post cards were sent.

The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Kerala has been working since 2008 to try and enact a policy for street vendors. While Kerala has developed  in many ways, it did not recognise the rights of vendors. It has taken almost 10 years to organise vendors and to persuade the trade unions to also support the rights of vendors. SEWA organised a vehicle campaign to support vendors’ rights, and held a big rally prior to the Monsoon session of Parliament. This work had a significant impact on the government and recently, they enacted a street vendors’ policy. However, there will be other difficulties because there is recently a newly elected government and vendors will face a lot of discrimination.

The workshop identified the following key campaign areas:

  • Strengthening vendor organisations with special focus on women vendors;
  • Registration of vendors and space allocations by the municipality so that evictions would end;
  • Basic services for vendors, such as drinking water, sanitation, waste management;
  • Social security, access to health services, child care facilities;
  • A fair taxation system;
  • A special law to cover the rights and obligations of street vendors;
  • Skills training, legal training and access to credit;
  • Integration of street vendors into urban development plans.

Each organisation then drew up its own action plan on the New Manifesto.

KOSC Korea

The Koreans will focus on the empowerment of women, street vending as a livelihood right, an end to evictions and harassments and a campaign goal of 2% of all urban space to be allotted to vendors.  They will also campaign for the right to participate in urban planning decisions which may affect their livelihoods.
Korean Participants at workshop

SEU Bangladesh

The SEU will focus on strengthening the vendors’ organisations with a special focus on women vendors, access to low interest loans, protection from eviction, harassment and confiscation of goods, registration of street vendors, and legal literacy campaigns.

NEST Nepal

NEST will also focus on strengthening its organisational base with a special focus on women vendors, a registration drive so that all vendors are issued with a licence and identity card; the right to be consulted about urban planning programmes; allocation of sufficient permanent vending spaces, with a goal of 2% of urban space allocated to street vending; protection from eviction, harassment, and confiscation of goods; and a central law to protect the livelihoods and rights of vendors.
NEST Nepal participants prepare their campaign plan


NASVI will focus on developing strong vendor organisations at State level and a leadership training programme; campaigning for the enactment of the Central Law for Street Vendors; legal literacy campaigns; and t protection from eviction, harassment and confiscation of goods; the registration of vendors and issuing of identity cards; campaigning to ensure that street vendor organisations are consulted about urban development plans; and access to low interest loans;
Indian participants at the workshop

Regional Networking
The workshop concluded with a discussion around alliance building with other street vendors’ organisations in the region, and it was agreed to contact HomeNet South Asia, the ITUC Asia Pacific office, the BWI and other national trade union centres to seek to identify street vendor organisations in Malaysia, Bangkok, the Philippines, and Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. NEST in Nepal was given the responsibility to contact associations in Beijing, China. A coordinating committee was set up to advance this work.
Prof Rahman and Vinod Simon, NASVI Program Manager at the workshop

The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Rahman from the V.V. Giri  National Labour Insitute,and the NASVI coordinator, Arbind Singh and NASVI Program Manager, Vinod Simon.

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