Working Paper No. 91 - Decent work and informal employment: A survey of workers in Glen View, Harare

The present paper analyzes the results of a Survey on Informal Employment that was carried out in the Harare suburb of Glen View in November 2006. While open unemployment among respondents is low, the large majority hold informal jobs. However, while informal employment provides much-needed employment opportunities, working conditions are often poor. The paper highlights a number of decent work deficits: Many workers spend excessive hours at work and yet generate incomes that are insufficient to meet their basic needs. Further, informal workers are generally excluded from formal social security systems and lack adequate social protection. And while over a quarter of all formal workers feel represented by the ZCTU and other workers’ organizations, only few informal workers believe that any organization or group expresses their concerns. Their most pressing problems include the rising cost of inputs, low incomes, and the confiscation of goods by police. Operation Murambatsvina had a disproportionately negative effect on informal workers and is a significant factor behind the overall deterioration in respondents’ work situation since 2004. By contrast, the recovery programme Operation Garikai reached only very few informal workers. The survey finds no indications that workers enter the informal economy a deliberate attempt to obtain cost advantages. On the contrary, employers and own account workers in the formal sector generate substantially higher profits than their informal counterparts.