Members of the National Movement of Waste Pickers of Brazil (MNCR) have been pressuring congress members on the Commission for Social Security and the Family to speed up the passage of legislation that would include waste pickers on the list of professions that benefit from social security. Just as small farmers and artisanal fishermen, waste pickers would contribute two percent of their own salary towards towards retirement.
The congresswoman Erika Kokay responded favorably to approving the legislation and also introduced another piece of legislation that presents a number of demands from the MNCR that would attend not just individual, independent waste pickers but also those organized in cooperatives and associations. The reformulation of the legislation includes MNCR’s other demand: that the amount of time waste pickers worked until the time of the law’s implementation be included.
For the more than 70 percent of waste pickers in Brazil that receive a minimum wage or less, the 2 percent contribution would be much more accessible than the 11 percent of the minimum wage that some currently pay. Those who make above the minimum wage must pay 20 percent of their wages towards social security as the law currently stands.
Eighty percent of waste pickers do not receive social security benefits, according to federal data. “Without a doubt, the social security situation amongst waste pickers is extremely precarious,” said Rogério Costanzi, the director of the federal social security department.
MNCR representative Roney Alves, said, “Waste pickers will be able to do what they do best — recycling and finding a destination for that which humans have discarded, often incorrectly — and turning what would normally become trash into prime material for industries and helping the environment by extending the life of the planet’s resources.”
The legislation will be analyzed by the financial and tax commissions as well as the Constitutional and justice commissions, after which it will come back to the Senate.