AMRC with support from Committee for Asian Women and Homenet Southeast Asia
Rights for Asia’s ‘invisible’ majority
The ‘informal’ workers constitute the overwhelming majority of Asia, as much as 2/3 of the labor force. Among those, a majority is composed of women.
Informal workers predominate in the large informal economy of Asia, which comprise of a galaxy of ‘unregistered’ and usually ‘unregulated’ economic activities taking place in agriculture, industry and in the rapidly-growing service sector. Workers in the vast informal economy include seasonal agricultural workers, home-based producers, ambulant peddlers, unregistered migrants, etc.
Formal sector employment also keeps shrinking in both developing and developed Asian countries because of the ‘labor informalization’ process taking place in the sector. The ‘regular’ or ‘standard’ employees are now outnumbered by the ‘irregular’ or ‘non-standard’ agency, temporary/casual, part-time, migrant and subcontracted workers.
Who are Asia’s informal labourers? What are their rights under national laws – or what are the rights they have been deprived of? Can the system of social security be extended to them? Can the ‘race to the bottom’ that is driving the informalization process be stopped? What can labor advocates and governments do to protect the dignity of informal workers– be they in the ever-growing informal economy or in the shrinking formal sector?