According to the definition of Thailand’s National Statistical Office, “an informal worker means a worker whose employment is neither protected nor guaranteed by social security system.” Therefore informal workers are those who are not protected by labour laws, or independent workers or such temporary workers as homeworkers, street vendors and domestic workers. Lacking any employment security, informal workers are paid with low wages and suffer irregular employment that leads to uncertain income and a lack of access to social security.
In 1992, with the support of the International Labour Organization’ regional office based in Thailand, informal workers in Bangkok; Central, Northern, Northeastern and Southern Regions; and non-governmental organizations working with these workers formed an “informal workers Network”. The Network aimed at improving the quality of life of its members and advocating policies and laws that would provide informal workers with social protection. In 2003, the Network’s promotion and development center was registered as the “Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion”. Both the Network and Foundation are generally known as HomeNet Thailand.
Initially, most members of the Network were informal workers in the production sector, such as homeworkers and self-employed workers that produce goods for sale. Now the Network’s membership includes informal workers in the agricultural and other services sectors, such as domestic workers, street vendors, motorbike riders, and so on.
“Informal Workers Network” is a membership-based organization. Its members must be informal workers of at least 15 years of age and pay their annual membership fees. The Network is managed by Informal Workers Network’s National Committee, elected by the Network’s regional representatives of informal workers.