‘Decent work for sex workers’ as ILO’s centenary treat

Art.-No.: 2019-a

Year of publication: 2019

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been a gift for workers worldwide. This year marks 100 years that this United Nations (UN) organisation has offered an international space to negotiate improvements in working conditions and a firmer guarantee of workers’ rights. Its unique tripartite structure, bringing together representatives of workers, employers and governments, has amplified workers’ voices and, thus, contributed to a more level playing field for them. The international legal framework negotiated and ratified at the annual International Labour Conferences (ILCs) is a key normative benchmark for workers’ rights in the ILO’s 187 member states.

(Karin Astrid Siegmann., 2 pages)


Women Working in the Shadows: The informal economy and export processing zones

Art.-No.: 2010-22

Year of publication: 2010

Large areas of women’s work in the world economy takes place in a shadowy realm not covered by labour market statistics, media headlines and research projects. Information on socially vulnerable sectors of the economy in which women’s work is performed is scanty. The amount of employment which is largely beyond the pale of protective measures of the state has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Such forms of employment, also referred to as informal, atypical, unprotected or precarious, are also sharply on the rise in the industrialised countries as well.

Almost two-thirds of paid employees in the world work in the informal economy today. These usually include street vendors, small producers, domestic employees and home workers in the South, and casual employees, temporary workers, part-time and non-permanent employees and frequently micro-entrepreneurs in the North. Two-thirds of them are considered poor in the world. The majority of employees in the informal economy are women. There is also a dearth of data on the working conditions of the primarily female employees working in export promotion zones worldwide. There is scarcely any public awareness of the fact that workers’ and women’s rights are being systematically violated in many of these tax and customs enclaves in more than a hundred countries.

This publication provides basic information on the informal economy and export processing zones, exploring their development in the context of globalisation and the prevailing gender order. It offers proposals for action to be taken by church and women’s groups, trade unions and youth organisations taking the example of campaigns relating to the global textiles and clothing industry, in which women’s work in the informal economy and in export processing zones is very widespread.

(Ingeborg Wick, 60 Pages)


Labour and women’s rights in the discount business. Aldi’s special bargains from China

Art.-No.: 2009-20

Year of publication: 2009

In September 2008, on behalf of the SÜDWIND Institute for Economics and Ecumenism, a survey of about 80 workers was carried out in six factories in the Pearl River Delta in China. These factories are suppliers of electronics, household appliances, cosmetics and textiles to Aldi.
On the basis of the respective ILO conventions and Chinese labour laws, the workers were asked questions about the following range of topics: forced labour, wages, discrimination in the workplace, employment of juveniles and minors, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, working hours as well as health and safety standards.

(Ingeborg Wick, 18 Pages)


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