In the first week of September, 246 waste pickers of the Gericinó dumpsite in Bangú, a peripheral neighborhood in the Rio de Janeiro municipality, were facing the possibility of being suddenly out of work. The workers found out that the city, which has been in the process of closing the dumpsite for many months, was going to hand management over to a private company within two weeks time and that the dumpsite would be off limits.
Waste pickers have found that collective action in defense of their rights and livelihoods is an effective solution to transforming the difficult working conditions, discrimination and harassment they face.
Here is a video of the Goldman Prize acceptance speech of Nohra Padilla, informal recycler and leader of the Colombian waste pickers’ movement. As part of the Goldman Prize, Padilla and other supporters of inclusive waste management (including the director of the Bogotá solid waste management department) were taken on a tour of San Francisco’s Zero Waste program. See the gallery of photos in this post. Also, Nohra Padilla is also scheduled to meet with President Obama. More on that soon!
This video discusses Auto 275, a Bogotá law meant to protect waste pickers’ rights as public service providers and to guarantee payment. It led to the court order that resulted in the organized waste pickers of Bogotá receiving priority as service providers and receiving payment for the first time. Auto 275 is explained via interviews conducted by a Bogotá waste picker with government authorities. The version with English subtitles is coming soon!
After over 20 years of fighting for recognition and inclusion in the city’s waste management system, the organized waste pickers of Bogotá finally saw their dreams come true when the municipal government issued them in March their first payment for the collection and transportation of recyclable materials. It was the first time they were paid as public service providers to the city.
In December, Sujeylin Isabel Ordoñez Quesada, a waste picker with “Cooperativa de Recuperadores del Pacifico R.L (COOPEREPA)” of Costa Rica, sent an email to Red Lacre (Latin American Network of Waste Pickers) requesting advice about what actions to take in regards to the closure of the Parque Ambiental de Garabito landfill and the likely loss of the livelihoods of the 18 families working there.
Comunicado del Gremio Reciclador a la Opinion Publica – La Voluntad del Alcalde Mayor de Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, destrabo 25 años de lucha
We face the Rio +20 Conference with deep concerns about the state of the formal United Nations negotiations and the policies that are being promoted by governments on environmental matters, specifically in the area of waste. (…)
That day of 2008, in the outskirts of Bogota, the joyful applause of the 600 participants from more than 34 countries fused with the sounds of the rain that fell to accompany this historic moment for all waste pickers. It was us, waste pickers, who defined that we deserved to celebrate a world day whereby all continents would come together for the blistered hands and broken-down backs caused by the work performed to recycle the materials that society discard.