ORGANIZING HOME-BASED WORKERS: HOW AND WHY
How are home-based workers organizing in different regions of the world? What forms and strategies are they using?
This was the subject of a global webinar conducted by the Homenet International Working Group on August 4. Chris Bonner of WIEGO , in her introduction, explained that home-based workers organize for reasons that are economic (work and income-related) political (for recognition and rights), and social (for solidarity and support).
She said that the form and strategy of organizing are influenced by its goal or purpose: Is it to secure and
improve livelihoods by combining resources? Is it focused on securing rights and protections through mobilization/ negotiations and/or advocacy? Or is it a combination?
According to Bonner, it is also important to consider the ownership, governance, beneficiaries and principles by asking the following questions: Do the members own and govern the organization? Are the collective benefits for the members ? Does the organization practice accountability, transparency, solidarity, independence ? She then explained various forms or organization, their aims and strategies .
The first type she mentioned include self-help groups (SHGs),community-based organizations CBOs, and women’s groups formed to ensure survival, sharing, solidarity, and skills acquisition. When they cluster together, they can facilitate access to local government, market support, and negotiations.
The second type includes cooperatives and producer companies whose primary aims are collective production and/or marketing, skills acquisition, solidarity. When they combine, they can have stronger market access and negotiating power with buyers/suppliers, or with government for recognition and rights.
Trade unions can also be formed for mobilization, solidarity, collective voice and visibility, advocacy, and
negotiations with government for workers’ rights and access to social protection at both local and national levels.
Alongside trade unions, there are associations or networks which focus on livelihoods, sharing, solidarity, and skills acquisition at local level, as well as advocacy, visibility, alliances, negotiations with government at national level.
The webinar featured leaders of the Homebased Women Workers Federation, a trade union based in Pakistan, and the Machakos Cooperative based in Kenya. Their presentations were the subject of a lively exchange.
On Sept. 18, another webinar featured the organizing experiences of Homenet Thailand, featuring Poonsap
Tulaphan, and Nuchnapa Burunga of the Fishing Net Producing Group. The format was interactive, with the
resource persons answering questions from the other participants.