This meeting took place as part of the synergy political action by the two WSM partners, GEFONT and NTUC, two main trade unions in Nepal, and was organized through ITUC-NAC. It followed on a study done by M Ramesh Badal in August 2014 regarding the existing social security systems in Nepal, analyzed through the ILC 102, which had already been shared with the partners in September. The current meeting meant to go beyond these findings and examine to which extent the informal economy could be included in the social security systems which are currently being established. 
The situation in Nepal regarding the political action synergy and roadmap methodology is indeed atypical, in the sense that the existing social protection schemes are already under revision and that trade unions have already advanced quite far in their positions and demands on these matters, which have been presented and negotiated to a large extent with both State and employers. Hence, the WSM support is meant to contribute to the already existing dynamic and strategic choices of the partners, rather than start from scratch. 
During the preparatory meetings, both partners had expressed an interest in ways and systems to include the informal workers in the schemes that were being established. Questions that were still unanswered were how to distinguish between the self-employed informal workers: independent or dependent, which amount and providence of contributions for them, how to ensure proper implementation… 
The objective of this meeting was hence to gather representatives from four informal sectors (construction, agriculture, domestic and home based workers and street vendors) and have them brainstorm across the three trade unions on potential ways of answering these issues in their sector.

I briefly introduced WSM, the programme in Asia and then presented the WSM vision on social protection and the methodology used, the roadmap to building global, largely supported national social protection policies. In my presentation, I presented the 5 building rules:
1. Rights-based approach
2. Multiple stakeholders
3. Multiple measures
4. Life-cycle approach
5. Multiple sources of financing
And 2 guidelines:
From the floor to the ceiling!
Together, we are stronger!
Next, I explained the specific context and focus in Nepal, which had gradually moved from OHS to the labour rights and social protection during the transition period (labour rights in draft constitution, labour act and social security act).

M Ramesh Badal

 Brother Ramesh Badal next presented the study that was done as the first step of the joint political action synergy supported by WSM. His study showed that almost all existing schemes focus on the formal sector and provide the best schemes for public servants. Only two schemes applied to the informal sector:
Transportation: under the Vehicle and Transport Management Act, a driver involved in a work related accident is entitled to 100.000NPR (passengers 200.000NPR) through an obligatory insurance by the employer (usually owner).
Guides and porters: under the Tourism Act, they are also entitled to an insurance for work accidents paid for by the tourist company.

Some interventions and suggestions from the participants:
– in case of problem to calculate the amount of contribution for the informal workers, this could be based on the minimum wage. Trade unions should prioritize health schemes and provident fund, and decide on minimum standards of contributions.
– A participant asked whether the benefits from the social protection schemes would be proportional to the contributions made by the individual worker, which was refuted, stating the schemes would benefit those matching certain criteria.
– The representative from the street vendors acknowledged the problem of separating between independent and workers, and suggested that the amount of their contribution could be based on the taxes paid to the city.

I also made some comments or suggestions:
o Is it the best strategic choice to publicly prioritize and advocate for only three schemes, which are bricks of the social protection house, but which might jeopardize the building of a coherent house of social protection. Is it not preferable from the beginning to aim for universal coverage, even if afterwards compromises have to be made?
M Ramesh Badal answered that, since these systems have never been implemented in Nepal, it is very tricky to predict how much will need to be collected to cover spending, which systems to put in place, reimbursement by bank, hospital etc. Many questions and issues still remain and it is better to promise and deliver three to five schemes, than promise the moon and consequently disappoint the workers and population if they won’t be implemented.
o Regarding the distinction between in/dependent workers, could a similar system as in India be envisioned, where trade unions are mandated to certify workers from informal sectors as indeed dependent and thus entitled to enroll?
o Regarding the contribution: best strategy is to find the people making money in a specific sector and have them contribute, preferably via already existing tax mechanisms, rather than reinvent new ones. He highlighted the clearly political choices that underline how a social protection scheme will be funded.

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