‘Informal’ Workers

A boy carries a wooden timber destined for a mine tunnel in Pamintaran, a remote gold mining community near Maragusan on the Philippines' southern island of Mindanao.

The black market or informal economy threatens workers’ rights, security and protection worldwide, and more must be done to strengthen minimum wages, safety standards and maternity benefits, said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who heads the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Tomasi also underlined the ongoing need to eradicate child labor, which remains “widespread in some regions.” While statistics indicate the number of child workers worldwide has decreased in the past five years, to 168 million from 246 million, “additional efforts” are needed to redress the issue, “especially if we consider that 22,000 boys and girls every year lose their lives in work accidents,” he said in his address to the U.N. International Labor Conference on June 4. The informal economy is largest in developing countries, but it is growing even in industrialized countries, he noted, adding that people enter this economy “not by choice” but due to “a lack of opportunities” in the formal sector.

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