Problems Faced by Casual Workers in Meru Town: an Online Intervention

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About this sample


Words: 2352 |

Pages: 5|

12 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 2352|Pages: 5|12 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

The research findings of this research proposal will help in developing a platform on which casual workers in Meru town can get jobs easily. They will be able to get work for a day or two without the hassle of presenting themselves at job sites every morning to ask to get hired. The research findings will go a long way into strengthening the rapidly growing informal sector that is turning out to be one of the firm pillars of the Kenyan economy. This project proposal is centered on the casual worker, particularly the day laborer who is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise of more work in the future. Day laborers are part of the informal sector of the economy.

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The typical casual laborer of the late 19th and early 20th century was the dock worker. Other major industries that relied on casual labor were construction, logging, sawmilling, and agriculture.

Currently, job seekers have to visit the job locations to get hired. There is no guarantee though that one will get hired on a particular day. Managers may hire and fire the laborers at will since there is no governing interest group that represents the workers.

The IT solution is a web-based system by the name RIZIKI. The system informs users of available jobs. Visitors in search of jobs have to create a RIZIKI account that will enable them to apply for these posts. Since most workers in the informal sector have not been through the complete formal system of education, no CVs will be needed to match requests with jobs. Instead, a referral system will be used. A worker’s referee is their previous employers who give a review on them and increase their chances of getting hired.

Casual work, also referred to as contingent work is a non-permanent kind of employment relationship. These jobs have limited job security and are not considered to be a career or part of a career. (Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, 2005). Contingent work comprises all casual work.

Manual labor is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines. Many jobs that comprise manual labor, such as manual materials handling, or manual assembly of parts, may be done by unskilled or semiskilled workers. For various reasons, there is a correlation between manual labor and unskilled or semiskilled workers, despite the fact that nearly any work can potentially have skill and intelligence applied to it.

Organisations engage casual workers as they see an opportunity to reduce benefits and retirement costs. It allows for adjustments to employment costs depending on what kind of expertise and labor is needed and at what time it is needed.

The type of work in the informal economy is of different forms, particularly in terms of capital invested, the technology used and income generated. (The Informal Economy: Department of Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation, 2011) The informal sector includes activities such as those carried out by casual workers in a warehouse and construction workers paid by the day. These activities provide critical economic opportunities for the lower class of the society and have been expanding rapidly since the 1960s. (Women and Men in the Informal Economy, 2002).

The informal sector excludes all activities in the criminal economy. The informal economy is part of the market economy, as it produces goods and services for sale and profit. Unpaid domestic work and care activities are not part of the informal economy as they do not contribute to that.

Most workers in the informal economy do not have access to secure work, benefits or representation. These features differ from the formal sector where there are regular hours of operation and a regular location. In the formal sector, workers have access to benefits such as sick leave, insurance, and pension. According to development and transition theories, workers in the informal sector earn less income, have unstable income, and do not have access to basic protection and services

The informal sector is the part of the economy that is not taxed and is not included in the Gross National Product (GNP) of a country. Unlike the formal sector, activities carried out in the informal sector are not monitored by the government. (The Informal Economy: Department of Infrastructure and Economic Cooperation, 2011). The informal sector has several characteristics: easy entry, where anyone who wishes to join can find work and earn from it, unstable employer-employee relationships (Meier, Gerald M., 2005), a small scope of operations, and skills gained from informal education.

Day laborers, who are the object of this study, find work through three common routes:

Firstly, some employment agencies specialize in very short-term contracts for manual labor most often in construction, factories, offices, and manufacturing. These companies usually have offices where workers can arrive and be assigned to a job on the spot, as they are available.

Secondly, a manager looking for additional labor to fill an unexpected change in plans has to find the needed quantity of labor with the right skills.

Thirdly, and less formally, workers meet at well-known locations, usually public st¬¬¬reet corners or commercial parking lots, and wait for building contractors, landscapers, homeowners and small business owners, and other potential employers to offer work. Much of this work is in small residential construction or landscaping.

These three routes are not quite favorable to both the employers and the workers.

In Kenya, workers use the wait-for-the-employer technique to secure a job for the day. The locations are common job sites such as warehouses, stores dealing in heavy metal moving such as hardware shops, and construction sites. The job seekers assemble at the gate or entrance of the entity before opening hours where employers meet them and hire depending on the amount of labor they require for the day and the skills that meet their needs.

Once the employer is satisfied with the number of workers they have hired, the hiring process is closed until the next day. The rest have to turn back and look for work elsewhere. This is the relatively calm scenario, it can turn chaotic when these parties disagree particularly when the employer dismisses part of the job seekers at their premises. In some setups, the employers become arrogant and abusive to the job seekers.

Ideally, a casual worker wishing to get hired for a day should easily find suitable work from any employer. However, as it is, finding work is a cumbersome task as it involves visiting the physical locations of work to ask to get hired and get paid at the end of the day. Getting hired largely depends on the amount of labor required by an employer on that particular day. A successful job hunt results in securing a day’s wage for the worker.

While this may seem at the end of the struggle that is rarely the case, as work is offered for not more than twenty-four hours at a time, meaning one has to start the process all over. Introducing an online system to help people find casual jobs would go a long way in alleviating these problems. The system shall provide a list of available jobs and allow interested parties to apply for quick placement to those jobs. It shall also help a worker to secure a job for the following day.


1. The platform will help casual job seekers get jobs after applying requests to them.

2. The conflicts that arise between employers and job seekers when there are just a few job slots shall be reduced.

3. Managers will find the needed quantity of labor when there is a need for additional labor to fill unexpected change in plans.

4. The assurance level of availability of future work for casual laborers will be raised.

The system is worthwhile as there are no existing web systems that provide job recruitment opportunities for casual job seekers in Meru town. It is an improvement to the current manual method of recruiting people to work on a one-day basis. The frustrations that come with waiting to be hired, only to discover that all positions have been occupied will be reduced. This can be attributed to the system’s ability to bring out the distinction between the positions that have been matched with received applications from those that are yet to be filled with required workers.

This section reviews the literature relating to the informal sector and casual jobs. Throughout this section, the terms informal sector and informal economy are used to refer to one constant entity. The term black economy can be used to refer to the informal economy. (Dilnot A. &., 1981). The “informal sector” concept first came about in an International Labour Organisation study of economic markets in Ghana (Hart, 1973).

This economy is present in many developing countries such as Kenya. It involves both the typical formal sector and an unsanctioned economy whereby economic transactions happen outside customary channels with excellent socio-economic benefits.

According to The Dual Labour Market Theory (Doeringer, 1971), the labor market is divided into four classes; primary, secondary, informal and illegal (as illustrated in Diagram 1). The primary sector is regulated, salaried jobs such as white-collar jobs. The secondary sector comprises of jobs with lower security than primary jobs and has low degrees of regulation, for instance, lower wage jobs in the service sector. The Dual Labour Market Theory stresses that the informal sector is made of people who have no access to primary or secondary work. These are people who operate their own small businesses in a cash-only or unregulated arrangement or people who work for employers but off-the-record. The fourth class is illegal to work. All criminal activities that generate revenue fall under this category.

People who work for someone else may be doing this as their primary job or as additional work in addition to their main work, for their primary employer. In one occasion the person is employed by a small, medium, or large scale company. For example, a hotel cleaning contractor that hires people off-the-records and pays them in cash. In another scenario, this person is employed by their current employer to work during the weekends or in the evenings. They might even take work home to add to their income. Again, this arrangement is off-the-record.

Other people are self-employed. Under this arrangement, people may operate their own businesses either as a primary source of income or as a way to supplement their income from their primary employment. An individual may operate a lawn care business as his primary source of income or run a household repair business as a means of bringing in additional income while still under full-time employment.

The following are key characteristics that are widely accepted by scholars as describing the informal economy. Legal versus Illegal.

Economic activities are distinguished by the manner in which goods and services are produced or exchanged. Food and clothing are legal commodities but may originate from both legally regulated and unregulated production arrangements (Raijman, 2002). In a review by The Aspen Institute in 2002, an example of a hot dog vendor is mentioned. Selling hot dogs on the streets is not illegal, however, if the vendor is not properly licensed, they may be evading sales tax or health laws. The authors have clearly distinguished this involvement in the informal economy from criminal activity, in which the act is illegal for instance peddling drugs on the streets.

Cash deals.

Parties exchange cash rather than cheques to dodge creating a record of their activities (McCrohan et al., 2001). These arrangements are termed as “off-the-record” or “under-the-table”.

Conditions of labor.

The informal economy thrives outside labor laws, thus employees within this economy do not have access to protection such as that given to formal employees. There is no guarantee that safety laws are being adhered to. The places of work may be environmentally harmful and the tools unsafe.

Poverty and the Informal


According to the International Labour Office, “There is no simple relationship between working informally and being poor, working formally and escaping poverty. But it is certainly true that a much higher percentage of people working in the informal relative to the formal economy is poor and truer that a large share of women working in the informal economy is poor” (2002, p. 3).

For some people, it is the only way or the best option. Others are involved in informal work for personal fulfillment or as a means to supplement primary income. People may join the informal sector as casual laborers as dictated by their low level of education. Most jobs in the formal sector demand a relatively high level of education for the job holders.

The growing informal sector is a driver of Kenya’s job market as it employs a significant amount of people who support the majority of the households in the country. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics for 2015, the economy generated a total of 841.6 thousand jobs of which 128.0 thousand jobs were in the modern sector while 713.6 thousand jobs were in the informal sector, during the period under review.

Benefits and drawbacks of the informal sector in Kenya.

The benefits of hiring casual staff are enjoyed by both the employer and the employee. Laborers. The employer may call on¬¬¬¬ casual staff in times of peak demand or scarcity of permanent staff. These casuals can come in and complete the pending tasks, with no obligation to keep them for slower periods. The immediate needs of the business can be successfully taken care of by tapping into a resource of casual workers.

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Casual employment does not guarantee longevity, though it provides benefits to the employee. Casual work allows individuals to fit work around their lifestyles. This is particularly beneficial for students or older people, who may have other commitments and require a work-life balance.

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Problems faced by casual workers in Meru town: an online intervention. (2018, April 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
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