For the past 22 years, the waste pickers of Colombia have been fighting for recognition of their work. “There are no borders for those who fight,” is the slogan that symbolizes the struggle of the more than 15 million waste pickers, who are facing global threats – against their lives, organization and towards the environment.
In the month of June, many residents of the Bañado Tacumbú neighborhood of Asunción, Paraguay, had to evacuate their homes because of flooding. The flood has affected about 5,000 families, 80 percent of which are waste picker families
As a response to information recently published about the current government-led public bidding process that aims to promote waste-to-energy in Uruguay, a pro-waste picker initiative called the Coordinadora Pro Clasificadores (CPC) declares in four points that the generation of energy from waste is not a solution.
Waste pickers’ associations from seven cities in Bolivia that participated in the second national conference, marched to demand the passage of a law that recognizes them as workers and gives them the right to social security benefits.
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.