MERU UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND
OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATICS
OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
CIB 3403 SYSTEM PROJECT
PROBLEMS FACED BY CASUAL WORKERS IN MERU
TOWN: AN ONLINE INTERVENTION
BS 205/4001/14 VICTOR MWENDA GITONGA
A PROJECT PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE
DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTER SCIENCE IN THE SCHOOL OF
COMPUTING AND INFORMATICS IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF
BUSINESS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.
I, GITONGA VICTOR MWENDA, hereby declare that
this project report is based on my original work except for citations and
quotations which have been duly acknowledged. I also declare that it has not
been previously and concurrently submitted for any other degree or award at
Meru University of Science and Technology.
I the undersigned supervisor hereby certify that this is a true
report for the project undertaken by the above-named student under my
supervision and that it has been submitted to Meru
University of Science and Technology with my approval.
Signature: ………………………… Date …………………………….
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 to be one of the firm pillars of the Kenyan economy.
CHAPTER ONE.. 4
1.1 Background. 4
1.1.1 Historical Background. 4
126.96.36.199 Implementation. 4
188.8.131.52 IT Solution. 4
1.1.2 Theoretical Background. 5
1.1.3 Conceptual Background. 6
1.1.4 Contextual Background. 7
1.2 Problem Statement 8
1.3 Objectives. 8
1.3.1 Main objective. 8
1.3.2 Specific Objectives. 8
1.4 Hypothesis. 9
1.5 Justification. 9
1.6 Scope. 9
CHAPTER TWO.. 10
LITERATURE REVIEW… 10
2.1 Introduction. 10
2.2 The Dual Labour
Market Theory. 10
2.3 Classification of the
informal economy on context basis. 11
2.4 Characteristics of
the informal economy. 13
2.5 Poverty and the
Informal Economy. 13
2.6 Why people engage in
the informal economy. 14
2.7 Growing informal
sector in Kenya. 14
2.8 Benefits and
drawbacks of the informal sector in Kenya. 14
This project proposal is centred on the casual worker, particularly the
day labourer who is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise of more
work in the future. Day labourers are part of the informal sector of the
1.1.1 Historical Background
The typical casual
labourer of the late 19th and early 20th century was the dock worker. Other
major industries that relied on casual labour 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 labourers at
will since there is no governing interest group that represents the workers.
184.108.40.206 IT Solution
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 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
are their previous employers who give a review on them and increase their
chances of getting hired.
1.1.2 Theoretical Background
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 labour is physical work done by people, most especially in
contrast to that done by machines. Many jobs that comprise manual labour, 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 labour 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 labour is needed and at what time it is
The type of work in the informal economy is of different forms,
particularly in terms of capital invested, technology used and income
generated. (The Informal Economy: Department of Infrastructure and Economic
The informal sector includes activities such as those carried out by casual
workers in a warehouse and construction workers paid by day. These activities
provide critical economic opportunities for the lower class of the society and
has 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.
1.1.3 Conceptual Background
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
Day labourers, 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 labour 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 labour to fill an unexpected change in plans has to find the needed
quantity of labour with the right skills.
Thirdly, and less formally,
workers meet at well-known locations, usually public street corners or
commercial parking lots, and wait for building contractors, landscapers, home
owners 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
favourable to both the employers and the workers.
1.1.4 Contextual Background
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 labour 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 set ups, 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 labour required by an employer on that
particular day. A successful job hunt results in securing a day’s wage for the
While this may seem as 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.
To enable casual labourers get jobs easily and more efficiently.
develop an online platform on which employers can post jobs so that people
wishing to work on them can apply.
facilitate the reduction of conflicts that arise between
employers and job seekers when the available job slots are fewer than the people that need work.
assist a manager
looking for additional labour to fill an unexpected change in plans, find the
needed quantity of labour with the right skills.
To raise assurance level
of availability of more work for casual labourers in the future.
The platform will help casual
job seekers get jobs after applying requests on them.
The conflicts that arise
between employers and job seekers when there are just a few job slots shall be
Managers will find the needed
quantity of labour when there is need for additional labour to fill unexpected
change in plans.
The assurance level of
availability of future work for casual labourers 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
of 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.
It collects details of
the applicant, process and store them in a database.
The system can be used
within Meru town to make easier the hiring process of day labourers.
The system can be
accessed by all devices with internet access such as laptops, desktops, and tablets.
This section reviews 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
2.2 The Dual Labour Market Theory
According to The Dual Labour Market Theory (Doeringer,
the labour market is divided into four classes; primary, secondary, informal
and illegal (as illustrated in Diagram 1). The primary sector are regulated,
salaried jobs such as white-collar jobs. Secondary sector comprises of jobs
with lower security than primary jobs and have 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-records.
The fourth class is illegal work. All criminal activities that generate revenue
fall under this category.
Labour Market Categories
and Johnson, 2000: 102
Classification of the informal economy on context basis
The International Labour Organisation depicts
informal work to involve a person working for someone else or a person being
self-employed where within these two categories there are two arrangements. As
shown in Diagram 2.
work for current employer
Person works for someone else
Paid in cash
and not taxed
hours on weekends or evenings (paid in cash and not taxed)
Person operates own small business
Does irregular odd jobs or services
seen as primary income
formalized as a “small business”
Adapted from work done by the
International Labour Organisation, 2002: 12-13.
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
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.
2.4 Characteristics of the informal economy
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.
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-records” or “under-the-table”.
Conditions of labour
The informal economy thrives outside labour 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.
2.5 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 are poor, and
more true that a large share of women working in the informal economy are poor”
(2002, p. 3).
2.6 Why people engage in the
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 labourers 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.
2.7 Growing informal sector in
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.
2.8 Benefits and drawbacks of the
informal sector in Kenya
The benefits of hiring casual staff are enjoyed by both the employer and
the employee. Labourers. 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.
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.
The literature reviewed in the above
section is in line with the