Tuesday, 26 June 2012

New Manifesto Regional Workshop in Lome Togo, March 9th 2012

Participants at the New Manifesto Campaigns workshop
This meeting aims were to:

(1) Review the aims of the New Manifesto campaign, proposed actions and the timetable until Congress;
(2) Learning about the implementation of the New Manifesto Campaign in 3 countries;
(3) Discussing whether other countries in the region can develop a New Manifesto Campaign;  
(4) Identifying common elements for a West and Central Africa New Manifesto
(5) Adopting a plan for the West and Central Africa New Manifesto Campaign until December 2013.

Nora Wintour, campaigns coordinator and Sibailly Douhoure,  organiser

Nora Wintour  explained the overall aims of the campaign, what activities had been carried out to date and different ideas for how the campaign might continue until the period up until Congress. She also presented the proposal to carry out an International Day of Action on Street Vending in 2012 and 2013.

There was a lively question and answer session after the presentation, focusing on issues about how campaign activities could be continued after the initial StreetNet funding had been exhausted, what were the criteria for selecting countries to participate, how to send in an application and other issues.

Next was an opportunity to showcase three countries which had carried out the New Manifesto campaign in the region.

The first presentation was from Togo where the two affiliates, FAINATRASIT and SYVEMACOT had recently completed the campaign, which had focused on a survey of markets in some of the towns in the interior of the country.  The two unions had been very impressed by the difficult working conditions in the interior and were planning a series of follow up activities.

The second presentation was from UGSEIN and FENASEIN. Souley Zainabou reported on the first phase of the programme which had included a survey of 5 districts in Niamey. 100 questionnaires had been completed and the unions had then held a workshop to compile the answers and develop the New Manifesto demands.  They will now publish the text and carry out lobbying and dissemination activities, as well as produce a poster in local languages to distribute to member associations in the capital and in the regions.

The third presentation was from LFDC.  Anne Matondo explained the process whereby the LFDC had trained its own members to carry out the survey in various districts in Kinshasa, had compiled the results and published the New Manifesto.  She shared copies of the New manifesto with the participants and a photo album.  the New Manifesto had then been presented to local authorities in the districts, to the trade union centre and had been presented to members.
Working Group

There was then a question and answer session about the different campaigns and how they had been implemented.  Participants were interested to learn from the practical experiences of others and there was considerable interest from other countries about the possibilities of carrying out the campaign and the mobilizing impact on their membership base.

This session was divided into two working groups to discuss what was needed to carry out a New Manifesto campaign.  The working groups focused on how best to organise a survey of members and potential members, how to draw up the survey, who would carry it out, how to compile the results and how to publicise the New Manifesto.

The working groups noted that the way that the LFDC had trained their own members to carry out the survey was an interesting methodology. It was also noted that carrying out the survey in the interior of the country was a good method of developing stronger contacts with members outside the capital region and to understand better their working conditions and needs.  It was also nted that the proposal to print posters with the main points of the new manifesto in local languages was a good idea which could be successfully duplicated in other countries.  

The last session look at the possible timetable for the development of the New Manifesto campaign in the region up until Congress. However, this planning was slightly impeded as the date for Congress was not yet determined. 

It was felt that there were not yet sufficient country level experiences to develop a New Manifesto campaign for the West and Central Africa region but maybe there could be an African New Manifesto campaign later in the year.

It was also agreed that a number of other countries in the region would seek to implement campaigns so that there would be a good cross-section of the affiliates in the region who had participated in the work prior to the 2013 World Congress.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Maria do Lourdes: we will defend our right to trade here in Rio

Maira is a leader of the newly formed Rio de Janeiro Street Vendors '  Forum

Maria do Lourdes lives in Tijuca district in Rio and works in a central square in the city, called Praça Buraco de Lume.  She is 38 years old and has worked all her life as a street vendor.  She lives with her husband, and two children (9 and 17 years old) and has one older child who has already left home.

She now works in a fixed stall in the square, which is owned by someone else who has rented it out to her.   She works there with her 19 year old son, making belts which she then sells. She has only been working there for the last 8 months. Before that, she has a small push cart which she wheeled around the central area of the city, but it was always a question of keeping an eye out for the municipal police in case they caught you and confiscated the goods.  She worked as a street vendor for 15 years. 
Maira now rents her own stall -after 15 years selling on the streets
She sellsbelts which she makes at the stall.

“Now I feel more established and the police don’t trouble me as much.  On a good day, I can make up to Br $ 300 (or about USD 150) but that does not include the costs of buying materials or my storage charges.  I have a deposit in a store near the square but I am charged for it.  But there are other days, when it is raining, for example, when I make hardly anything at all.  I work from about 9am to 5 or 6pm but then I go to class from 6:20 – 10:40pm as I am finishing my middle school education.  I am in the last year now.  Then I want to go on to study law and become a lawyer so I can defend the rights of street vendors.”

Maria is one of the leaders of the United Movement of Street Vendors (MUCA), which is affiliated to the United Workers Centre (CUT)- Rio.  She has been active in the campaign to defend street vendors’ licenses and to demand that the police end their repressive actions against them.
Maira speaks at a panel event organised by WIEGO
“MUCA meets once a month and we have been working with other street vendors’ associations in Copacabana and elsewhere to set up a municipal network of street vendors.  We know that here in Rio, with all the international events, such as Rio+20, the World Cup and the Olympics, there will be more and more repression against street vendors.

We have written a letter to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro and on May 14th, one of the Councillors read out the letter in the Council Chamber.  We need to be more active politically to press for our demands.  We have also written an open letter to civil society which is reproduced below and which we distributed during the Rio+20 Peoples’ Summit and elsewhere.

Open Letter from the
Municipal Network of Informal Street Traders of Rio de Janeiro

The informal street traders of the Rio de Janeiro Municipality wish to publicly express our repudiation of the actions of the Municipal authorities who have violated our right to work and provide for the subsistence of our families.

We demand the implementation of the Law 1876 of 1992 which regulates informal trade.  We denounce the arbitrary actions of the Municipality, the lack of decent work and the lack of transparency in the execution of the 2009 official register of informal street traders

The official register
The 2009 official register (known as CUCA) opened the way to give trading licenses to street traders.  However, instead of verifying who was actually trading in the streets, the Municipality opened the census to all unemployed persons.  There were no clear criteria to give priority to those who could prove they had been trading on the streets for long periods of time. Moreover, many informal traders state that when they handed over documents to the register officials, proving the number of years they had been working as informal traders, they were rejected by the Municipal officials. The result of the register was that the majority of the long-term traders were left without a licence and had to continue working in a situation of irregularity.

The Municipality never published the criteria used to grant licenses or decide the numbers to be granted in each district. The total number of licenses is well below the number envisaged in the Law.

Many workers have taken part in training courses organised by the Municipal Secretary of Labour, have registered as Individual Micro Businesses (MEI) and have bought new standardised kiosks, on the basis of incentives and promises from the Secretary of Public Order (SEOP). But instead of finding their situation regularised, they have been chased off the streets and their goods confiscated.

The Legal Provisions for a Commission on Informal Street Traders not respected
The public authorities refuse to dialogue with representatives of the informal traders despite the Law 1876 of 1992 which provides for the setting up of a Municipal and district commissions comprising officials, civil society and informal traders.  Instead, all decisions are taken on a unilateral basis.

Application of Fines not in conformity with Law 1876 of 1992
The application of fines has not taken place according to the provisions of the Law 1876/92. Fines are handed out without the statutory prior notification (on two occasions), and without a government official personally explaining the irregularity.  The deadline to appeal against the fine is only 3 days which does not give enough time to obtain a legal defence.  Fines are

used as a means to revoke licenses, because after various fines, the worker is liable to lose his or her license.

Confiscation of Merchandise
The confiscation of merchandise is not carried out according to the Law 1876/92, which requires that a requisition note be issued so that the merchandise can be recovered later (on presentation of the proof of payment of a fine). Officials regularly ignore these requirements and are verbally abusive and often physically violent. Public authorities should not condone the abuse of office and use of violence.

Storage Areas
The Municipality does not provide legal storage areas where the traders can keep their equipment and merchandise and does not issue any storage permits. In this way, street traders again have to confront irregular and degrading conditions of work.

Impact of Mega-events on Informal Traders
Informal traders, who work in the areas used during the mega-events such as Rio +20, the World Cup, the Olympics and other events, are simply banned from the areas and are not given any satisfactory alternatives by the Municipality. We  do not have sufficient capital to remain without work and the Municipality should be sufficiently responsible to offer compensation, negotiated with representatives of the traders, or else to find ways to include the traders in these events, so that they too can benefit from the trading opportunities.

We have to conclude that the Municipality neither values informal street traders nor shows us the respect we deserve as honest workers who have the right to work in order to provide for our families.

We demand an end to these injustices. We are treated like criminals, when we are creating alternatives for our survival in a city which only can provide formal employment for under  60% of the total population of working age in the Metropolitan areas of Brazil.

We are honest and decent workers, and we demand the implementation of the law.  We demand the right to work and we demand the right to the democratic use of the city.


Angela  Rissi & Maria do Carmo  Santos                                                                        
Municipal Network of Rio de Janeiro Traders
5th June 2012                                                           

Thursday, 21 June 2012

StreetNet at Rio+20

StreetNet International took part in Rio+20 People's Summit from June 15th -June 20th 2012. The delegation comprised Oscar Silva, StreetNet President, Nora Wintour StreetNet Campaigns Coordinator, and Maira Vannuchi, StreetNet Brazil coordinator. 

Launching the report on megaevents and human rights violations
StreetNet took part in meetings related to social security, the social solidarity economy, mega-events and their impact on human rights, and  social movements resistance to urban "cleansing" programmes. The launch of the report on Megaevents and Human Rights Violations in Brazil, published by the Popular Committees of those Affected by the World Cup includes a section on the rights of street vendors and the October 2011 Brazil Street Vendors Forum Declaration. The launch took place on Monday 18th June.
Maira Vannuchi also attended the Trade Union Assembly organised by the ITUC and the TUCA from 11th -13th June.  

Zero Waste Workshop at the Rio +20 Conference Centre Wednesday 20th June
StreetNet also worked with its partner organisations of waste pickers who also held a number of events on waste recycling and the impact of incineration on the climate.

On June 20th, there was a march through the centre of Rio de Janeiro organised by the Peoples' Summit where StreetNet was joined by members of the recently formed Rio de Janeiro Municipal Network of Street Vendors.  
StreetNet and Rio Vendors Forum at the Peoples' Summit March

A leaflet explaining the main demands of the Brazilian street vendors was distributed widely.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Victory for the Sao Paulo Vendors - can this be true?

The Sao Paulo Forum of Street Vendors staged a demonstration on on 20th June before the Tribunal of Justice in Sao Paulo to protest against the decision of the Mayor Gilberto Kassab to withdraw all trading licenses in Sao Paulo. To their surpise and delight, the Judge who had overturned the lower court decision to condemn the Mayor's decision changed his mind and has repealed his own judgement.  What has happened?  (1) The Mayor withdrew the trading licenses. (2) The Lower Court ruled that the Mayor's decree was not valid. (3) The Higher Court ruled that the Lower Court was interfering in administrative decisions and that the ruling was therefore not valid. (4) The Higher Court Judge reviewed his decision and declared that the licenses as issued since 2012 were valid.


So an amazing victory and a labyrinth of legal rulings.  How can a street vendor be expected to understand all these legal rulings? Is it not time to rethink the legal basis for street vending in Sao Paulo and re-establish the Permanant Forum on Street Vending so that street vending can be regulated with the participation of the vendors themselves?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

World Cup Popular Committee at Rio +20 Peoples' Summit

The Popular Committee of those Affected by the World Cup organised a panel discussion on the impact of the World Cup on the urban poor.  The event also was the occasion to launch a second edition of the report by Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, on "Mega-events and human rights", which catalogues the violations of the rights of shanty town dwellers, street vendors and other groups which have been affected by the World Cup infrastructure projects, and social "cleansing" projects.  The report includes the Declaration on the Demands of Street Vendors from the 12 host cities which was drawn up on 26th October 2011, during the StreetNet International forum on street vending.

There were representatives from 8 of the 12 World Cup host cities, who explained how the infrastrucutre projects are being used to accelerate proceedings to clear shanty towns in prime real estate sites and how the housing offered by the Municipality as alternatives is either far from their current homes or there are no clear alternatives on offer.  The Committee has adopted the slogan "a key for a key"' meaning they will not leave their current homes until they are satisfied there are adequate alternatives. 

Valdina from the Sao Paulo Street Vendors' Forum spoke about the situation in Sao Paolo where the Mayor, Gilberto Kassabe, issued a decree (No 53.154) banning all street vending in the city with effect from 20th June 2012.  She explained that although the Public Attorney had filed a successful legal case against this decree,the Mayor's ban had been upheld  by the HIgh Court of Sao Paolo and the ban will go ahead.  The Forum of Street Vendors of Sao Paolo will hold a mass protest on 20th June outside the Tribunal of Justice.


Valdina: street vending should be legal

Interview with Valdina de Assis Andrade da Silva

Valdina at Rio+20 Peoples Summit  
Valdina is 56 years old and lives in the Campo Elisos district of Sao Paolo. She works in the Praça da Republica, or Republic Square, which is one of the main squares in the centre of Sao Paolo.  She has a cart and sells drinks, water, chocolates, chewing gums and sweets.  She buys the goods from supermarkets in the centre, called Bombayano and Millgraus.  She works during the night from 12 midnight until 5 am in the morning because it is when there is less police control. The best days are after pay day (16th and 30th of every month) and on Saturday night. Much also depends on the weather – if it is a hot night then she will sell more.  On a good day she can earn up to R$ 70- 90 (which is about USD 35-40) but on the bad days, she may lose all her goods.

“I don’t have a license to trade and the police often confiscate our goods.  We are always looking out for the police when we are selling.  Even at night, the police sometimes come and we have to run as fast as we can to avoid them. Between midnight and 5am is the quiet time.  Some people work between 6am-8am but there is more risk that the police will catch you. If they come in large numbers, there is nothing we can do as they trap us in a corner near the square.  Then we lose everything.  Even if they give us a document stating they have confiscated our goods, the value of our goods is less than the fine.  Also when we have perishable goods – and they say drinks like Coca-Cola and Guaraná are perishable -they won’t return them. So we lose everything that day.

Valdina returns home and then has to store her goods. She goes to sleep around 7am but she has to get up again around mid-day as there are always other things to do.  She is active in the Sao Paolo Street Traders Forum and she also has to help her daughter with her two young children, who are 5 and 2 years old. Her daughter works in a restaurant so if the children are sick or it is a school holiday, she has to help with the children.  Most of the other vendors are women who are also helping their families in different ways. 

“I am also studying middle school as I did not finish my school education when I was young.  It is not easy but I am determined!  I like my work, I like to meet people but it is not easy.

We are facing many problems now.  The Mayor of Sao Paulo, Gilberto Kassab, has not been friendly to us.  We think there are over 150,000 street vendors in Sao Paulo but there are fewer and fewer who have a license. The Mayor says there are 4500 with licenses but we think it is much less than that.  They take the license away from you using any excuse.  The licenses were meant to be for physically handicapped people and for retired people who don’t have a pension. But the Mayor has taken them away without any regard for their needs.

We don’t want to break any laws but we need to work and earn money.  In Sao Paolo, there are not many jobs for people who are over 50 years, or who don’t have much education.  I would like to work legally, I would like to be respected and work during the day.  The Sao Paolo Forum of Street Vendors is fighting for our work to be recognised and to be legal.”

Friday, 15 June 2012

Rio +20: Carta à sociedade Articulação Municipal de Ambulantes do Rio de Janeiro

Carta à sociedade
Articulação Municipal de Ambulantes do Rio de Janeiro

Nós, trabalhadores ambulantes do município do Rio de Janeiro, pela presente carta tornamos público nosso repúdio a atitudes do poder público municipal contra nossa categoria, que violam o direito ao trabalho e assim, impactam diretamente na subsistência de nossas famílias.
Exigimos o cumprimento da Lei 1876/92 que regula o exercício da atividade da venda ambulante e denunciamos as ações arbitrárias da prefeitura, a falta de condições dignas de trabalho e as falhas do cadastramento oficial realizado em 2009.
O cadastramento oficial de 2009 (CUCA) abriu vagas para licenciar vendedores ambulantes no município, no entanto, a prefeitura ao invés de verificar quem trabalhava nas ruas, abriu o cadastramento para a população desempregada em geral. Da mesma forma, não ofereceu critérios precisos para dar prioridade aos trabalhadores que comprovadamente vendiam nas ruas antes do cadastramento, e que por anos enfrentam uma situação de irregularidade e alta vulnerabilidade social. Diversos trabalhadores ambulantes relataram que no momento da entrega de documentos para o cadastramento, documentos que comprovavam tempo de experiência nas ruas foram rejeitados por funcionários da prefeitura. O resultado é a maioria dos vendedores ambulantes mais antigos sem a licença e mais uma vez acuados na irregularidade.
A prefeitura não tornou público o critério usado para definir o número de vagas por região administrativa, e regularizou um número de vendedores ambulantes muito inferior ao previsto na Lei 1866/92.
 A prefeitura freqüentemente desrespeita e não dá o valor aos comerciantes de rua, enquanto trabalhadores honestos que têm direito a garantir, através do trabalho, os meios de vida de suas famílias. Diversos trabalhadores fizeram o curso de capacitação proposto pela Secretaria Municipal do Trabalho, foram cadastrados como Microempreendedores Individuais – MEI e compraram barracas novas padronizadas, sob incentivos e promessas da Secretaria de Ordem Pública – SEOP. Em seguida, foram removidos da rua, mostrando a total falta de compromisso do poder público com os trabalhadores.
O poder público não dialoga com representantes da categoria, apesar da Lei 1876/92 prever uma comissão organizadora e comissões regionais formadas por representantes do poder público, da sociedade civil e de vendedores ambulantes. Todas as medidas são tomadas unilateralmente desconsiderando a importância que os postos de trabalho significam para milhares de famílias.
A aplicação de multas pela fiscalização não ocorre de acordo com a Lei 1876/92. As multas vêm sendo emitidas sistematicamente sem que haja duas notificações anteriormente, e sem que o oficial aborde o trabalhador explicando a irregularidade. O tempo para recorrer à multa é de apenas 3 dias, impedindo o direito de defesa. A multa aparece como instrumento de cassação de licenças, uma vez que depois de algumas infrações o trabalhador perde a sua autorização.
A apreensão de mercadorias não é realizada de acordo com a Lei 1876/92. De acordo com a legislação é necessário o lacre e a emissão do auto de apreensão para que o trabalhador possa recuperar a mercadoria posteriormente (com apresentação de nota fiscal). Oficiais correntemente não cumprem este pressuposto e agridem verbal e muitas vezes fisicamente os vendedores ambulantes. Não é admissível que o poder público seja conivente com abuso de poder e violência policial.
A prefeitura não regulariza os depósitos onde comerciantes de rua armazenam equipamentos, barracas e mercadorias. Quando são fiscalizados, estes depósitos são fechados com tudo dentro, sendo que não existe a possibilidade de regularizar estes espaços, já que a prefeitura não emite alvará para isso. Dessa forma os vendedores ambulantes mais uma vez têm de enfrentar a irregularidade e condições degradantes de trabalho.
Vendedores ambulantes que trabalham em locais utilizados para sediar megaeventos tais como Rio +20, Copa do Mundo, Olimpíadas, grandes shows etc. são simplesmente banidos de seus locais de trabalho e não contam com nenhuma alternativa satisfatória oferecida pela prefeitura.  Os vendedores ambulantes não podem arcar com o prejuízo de ficar sem trabalhar, e o poder público deve ser imbuído da responsabilidade de oferecer medidas compensatórias, negociadas com representantes da categoria, e/ou mediar a inclusão justa e a preços sociais dos ambulantes nestes eventos, para que também possam se beneficiar dessas oportunidades de negócio.
 Exigimos a reparação das injustiças cometidas. Somos tratados como criminosos quando estamos criando alternativas para nossa sobrevivência em uma cidade que não possui emprego formal para 100% de seus cidadãos.
Somos trabalhadores dignos, honestos e exigimos o cumprimento da lei. Exigimos o direito ao trabalho! E o direito à cidade!
Articulação Municipal de Ambulantes do Rio de Janeiro 
                                StreetNet Internacional
o 5 do junho de 2012