From 13 to 15 February 2018, SERI participated in a workshop hosted by the Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising (WIEGO) on the use of the law to protect and strengthen the rights of informal workers in South Africa. The workshop, entitled “WIEGO Law School: Using South Africa’s Administrative Law to Protect the Rights of Informal Workers”, focused on informal traders and waste pickers.
The workshop brought together the leadership and members of informal worker organisations from across South Africa to reflect on the challenges facing informal workers and come to grips with laws and policies governing informal work in South Africa. The workshop focused on the role that administrative law can play in protecting the rights of informal traders and waste pickers. Administrative law is the field of law that regulates the exercise of public power or the performance of public functions. This branch of law therefore governs virtually all government decisions that affect informal traders or waste pickers, including decisions to grant, suspend, revoke of withhold a trading license or permit, decisions to impose any conditions or restrictions on a trading license of permit, decisions to impound informal traders’ goods, or decisions to relocate or evict informal traders from their stalls.
The workshop included a panel discussion with various public interest law organisations, who spoke about the importance of legal protections and how their organisations can support informal workers in theri legal struggles. SERI executive director, Stuart Wilson, was part of the panel.
The workshop compliments SERI oingoing work on informal trade. Recognising the crucial role that local government plays on developing and implementing a supportive and enabling regulatory environment for informal traders, SERI has partnered with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in an effort to provide assistance to municipalities throughout the country by helping municipalities to understand their legal and constitutional obligations in formulating and implementing by-laws and policies that govern informal trade in their municipal areas. SERI is in the process of developing a set of recommendations to assist municipalities to formulate, update or implement by-laws and policies that are in line with informal traders' constitutional rights and the law. These recommendations and a review of the case law related to informal trade will be published later this year.