Lack of secure employment

While slum and squatter neighbourhoods are magnets for those who dream of employment, they have in fact become catchments of labour nightmares. The Challenge of Slums concluded that ‘instead of being a focus for growth and prosperity, the cities have become a dumping ground for a surplus population working in unskilled, unprotected and low-wage informal service industries and trade’. Informal sector employment has been the subject of considerable debate, especially between promoters and resisters of globalisation and free market economies. This sector so lacks legitimacy and organisation that workers are inherently vulnerable to exploitation on a scale unimaginable to even Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

It is clear that informal jobs have higher vulnerability, higher risk, and lower levels of pay than most formal jobs. It is these jobs that are available to those living in slum and squatter neighbourhoods. The way slum and squatter residents make (or don’t make) a living affects every part of their households lives. Inadequately paid work is another issue that slum and squatter residents face because of insecure work. When, for example, inflation hits food supplies, urban poor families are forced to use up to seventy or eighty per cent of their disposable income on food

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