Street Vendor Groups

Social Protection For The Informal Workers

Street vendor
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Paper publication date: 
Thursday, February 14, 2019

Who are Street Vendors?

In Cambodia, like many other countries in the world, there is a rapidly increasing amount of street vending or trading because it is an important source of work and income for many poor  ouseholds. A street vendor is broadly defined as a person who offers goods for sale to the general public without having a permanent built-up structure from which to sell. Street vendors in general occupy space on the pavements or other public/private spaces or move from place to place to trade their products and goods. In Cambodia, there are about 62,780 (3.8%) Street Business (Vendors) of the 1,673,390 registered persons engaged in different forms of business (NIS/EC2011). Of these, about 16,419 (1%) are based in Phnom Penh and 75% are women.

There is no particular law and policy in place to protect and improve the situation of street vendors. They continue to face many challenges including insecure income and limited space for their businesses, and sometimes they are harassed by house owners, the police or local authorities to leave their selling space. Most informal workers have low education (ILO 2006), unstable living conditions and in many cases their income is well below the poverty line (ILO, 2006). They are vulnerable to many health, social, and economic risks, but the instability of their income makes it difficult for them to plan ahead. Therefore, access to social protection schemes including health insurance, child care, having clean working places and to access to financial services are crucial for them.

A collective voice to achieve better conditions for street vendors though collective bargaining processes.

Ms Pheng Rathana is a street vendor who sells coffee at one of the streets near Orussey market. She became a member of IDEA (Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association) in 2015. She said, “I knew IDEA after having problems over my selling space with the house owner. I was given the contact details of IDEA, by one of the tuk-tuk drivers. It was really helpful as they have helped me to find ways to secure my selling space. Now, I don’t feel alone like I felt before. IDEA is not only able to assist me and other members to have space for selling but also provides me a lot of opportunities to participate in the trainings and meetings both locally and internationally. I feel stronger and I feel confident when dealing with many issues in my selling place and with neighbours. I am able to talk with Sangkat and Khan authorities confidently. I have also been supported to sue the gangsters who use to be harass me in my community.”

Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA)
Established on 30 April May 2005, IDEA is protecting and promoting the rights and interests of marginalised informal workers in Cambodia to improve working conditions of informal workers, livelihoods, and awareness of thousands of informal workers in Cambodia. IDEA has approximately 14,000 members from Phnom Penh and five provinces in Cambodia including the most marginalised street vendors, cart pullers, tuk-tuk and taxi drivers and domestic workers. There are 15 groups of Street Vendors with 852 members including 593 (70%) females that have been organised, mobilised, capacitated and empowered to dialogue and negotiate for better access to social protection and decent living conditions.

 IDEA provides support to the most marginalised street vendors to access to legal services when facing harassment and abuse, collective dialogue and negotiation​​ for proper vending space, access to NSSF’s ID card and Health Equity Fund for free health care and working accidents.