The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON) was launched June 2010 in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by 24 informal workers’ organizations drawn from 7 states of the federation. Since then, FIWON has sought to build human and material capacities for representation of informal workers in decision making public institutions, more qualitative and effective participation in Nigeria’s democratic processes, and enactment of policies to address pervasive development problems in the Nigerian informal economy. FIWON has evolved as a common platform based on shared problems and aspirations of millions of working people, helping to blunt the edge of divisive polarizations which Nigerian political processes engender. FIWON provides an important democratic space on the basis of which private, public, social sector partnerships could be forged to address urgent human and development problems that affect majority of working Nigerians.
While workers in the informal sectors of the Nigerian economy constitute over 80% of the non-agricultural employment, 60% of urban employment and over 90% of new jobs according to official statistics, with an estimated population of over 65 million working people, they are absent from decision making processes and largely subject to a lot of policy inconsistency and arbitrariness. The informal economy includes self-employed workers, contributing family members and those moving from one form of jobs or location to another; it also includes some of those who are engaged in new flexible work arrangements and who find themselves at the periphery of the core enterprise or at the lowest end of the production chain.
Work in the informal economy is often characterized by small or undefined work places, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, low level of skills and productivity, low or irregular incomes, long working hours and lack of access to information, markets, finance, training and technology. The frequent complaints among informal workers include: arbitrary taxation, absence of social protection, poor access to the services of the formal financial institutions, poor occupational health and safety awareness and the consequent lack of the most rudimentary personal protection at work, lack of well - structured -technical training and retraining in new production processes and technologies, lack of access to work-spaces with basic infrastructures among others.
Yet informal workers contribute 57.9% to the national economy according to the most recent statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2014 after the ‘rebasing’ of the national economy. FIWON’s vision is to achieve radical poverty reduction in the Nigerian informal economy through improved capacities for advocacy and representation of informal workers and their organizations in all public institutions of governance as well as provision of relevant social, financial and cultural services to members.
To organize informal workers and be a platform for their representation and empowerment through trade union education, robust engagement with government as well as local and international organizations, and to gain better access to inputs and resources.
To transform the work and life of very informal worker from the margins into the mainstream of our country’s socio-economic systems with greater social inclusion, improved productivity, better access to social protection, for work with dignity.