Armenian Trade Union Confederation (KPA) Informal Economy project national working group meeting, 22 September 2008

The meeting was aimed to plan the next year activities, to discuss the situation, the preparation of the analysis paper, to learn the IE situation at the place, to inform about the project activities in other countries.

Participants: the representatives of agriculture, commerce, construction, service, communal and food branches, the members of the youth and women’s commissions, the KPA staff.

Experts: Leo Mesman FNV, Sergejus Glovackas ITUC/PERC

Leo Mesman told about the history of the trade unions in Holland, their structures and activities and informed about the self-employed people union in FNV. Separately he told about the international work and solidarity and why it is important. Particular interest of the audience was about the service packet that the FNV provides to the self-employed people in the social and medical insurance area.

Boris Kharatian, the Vice-President of KPA, presented the IE situation in Armenia and the main statistics: unemployment is 6.3%, labour force is 1102 thousands, trade union membership - 292 000, 45-50% are informally employed. 470 000 workers are paying social insurance, and the dynamics of last years reveals that informal employment is slightly going down as some 110 thousand people more are paying social insurance today. The labour market in Armenia is very individualized; all decisions are made between the employer and employee. The strong party – employer - is proposing the conditions favorable for him, i.e. to pay wages in envelopes. The workers do not know their rights and consequences of informal work. One of the main directions of the KPA activities is to use mass media to inform and to educate the workers about the necessity to have labour contracts. The greater share of illegal jobs is in construction, SMEs, services. According to the Armenia’s laws everyone who has a plot of land is employed (though the land can be not cultivated or used for other purposes) but the alteration of this law is under preparation taking into account not only ownership but also income received from the plot of land. The discussion about taxes was quite long. The employers’ organization in Armenia was set up only last year after adoption of the law on employers’ organizations, due to this fact there was no tripartite agreement. The Tripartite body is a new phenomenon in Armenia

The working group prepared action plans for next 8 months. First results of unionization of those working informally were mentioned: since February 10 hairdressers, 22 petrol station workers unionized and some 15 farms were organized.

Sergeus Glovackas