Social Security

Social security of workers inthe informal sector and other issues

  • The two papers in this sessionaddressed the statistical issues relating to three important recent globaltrends:
    • Social security in the context of a) a declining rolefor nation states. B) an expending role of markets and c) increasinginform-alization of labor contracts
    • Increasing number of home-based workers, particularlydependent home-workers or outworkers (that is women who work out of their homeson a sub-contract basis)
    • Emergence of non-governmental organizations asimportant users of official data in their negotations and policy advocacy on thenational and global stages.
  • Dr. Jeemol Unni, representative fo theinternationally-renowned Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA) of India.Began her presentation on "Social Security for Informal Sector Workers: The Roleof Statistics" with a short discussion of the generators (mainly government) andusers (government, research institutions, and non-governmentalorganizations/peoples organizations) of official statistics. She noted thatgovernments are the primary data generators and governments and researchinstitutiions are the primary data users. However, increasingly,non-governmental organizations and peoples organizations are using officialstatistics for their negotiations and policy advocacy activities.


    • She briefly described the role of SEWA, in improvingthe working and living conditions of women in the informal sector. She arguedthat organizations like SEWA need offical statistics to support theirnegotiations, arguments, and policy advocacy on behalf for women workers in theinformal sector around both economic and social security issues. For instance,in negotiating a social fund for women workers in different industries SEWArequires data on the number of workers in the selected trades or industries, onthe contribution of these workers (Value-added, saving and investment, taxes andrevenues paid to government). In order to generate the necessary statistics.SEWA has been demanding improved classification systems (By task, industry andemployment status) in the census and labor force surveys. To illustrate the needfor better classification, Dr. Unni cited the case of home-based garmentsworkers whose status falls somewhere between casual employees and own accountworkers and concluded that under the current classification system home-basedwork questions on place of work, how work orders were received and method ofpayment need to be included in the census and or labour force surveys. Furtherto calculate the contribution of home-based garment workers,cross-classification of the home-based worker category with the gross valueadded by three-digit industrial group its required
    • Dr. Unni concluded her presentation with a request todata generators to be sensitive to the needs of non-governmental organizationsand peoples organizations, including statistics on economic and social securityaspects of the informal sector, number of workers in specific trades by region,contribution of these workers to GDP. In order to get the necessary statistics.The classification of current activities plus status of employment need to berevised. GDP needs to be calculated at the level of three-digit industrialclassifications, cross-classification of activity and industrial status isneeded, and new enumeration methods required to account for different categoriesof workers and their contributions.
    • Dr. Pedreros paper on "The Mexican Experience onHousehold Surveys: The Homeworkers Information" detailed the experience ofMexico in addressing the issue of the data on homeworkers. In the first part ofher paper. Dr. Pedrero explained how, over time, the Mexican household surveywas adapted to capture the reality of the Mexican labour force (including thepresence of large number of homeworkers) The main changes involved introducing a) more open classification to sdeparate clearly employees, own account workers,employers, and sub-contract workers and b)more probing questions to examine suchissues as why the allegedly non-active population is not actively seekingwork.
    • Dr. Pedrero concluded that several specific groupsrequire specific statistics and analysis, including street vendors andhome-based workers: to capture these categories, it is necessary to ask locationof work and thype of payment within the categories, it is necessary to asklocation of work and type of payment within the category home-based workersthere are both independed own account workers and dependent outworkers. Todistinguish between these it is necessary to ask who provides the raw materialand who are the clients.
    • In the discussion following these two presentations towissues were highlighted First the need for prcise and comprehensive statisticsto capture both the economic and social aspects of the informal sectors Second,the need for specific statistics and analysis to capture large and growingnumbers of sub-contract workers or out-workers for example in Colombiasub-contract workers are the largest share of construction workers . Inrecognition fo this reality, although the official statistics do not capturethis reality the Colombian governemnt has introduced a new law which requiresemployers to pay benefits to out-workers.
    • To capture the reality of the workforce, in particularthe large number of home-based workers and street vendors, some participantsrecommended that the expert group on informal sector statistics reviews inparticular its concepts classification, methods of enumeration and survey, andquesitonnair design.
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