By Federico Parra, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)
Bogotá, Colombia – March 12, 2013
I am writing to share with you, the beginning of the process of paying recyclers in Bogotá (and the rest of Colombia) for their service of collecting and transporting recyclable waste. Today, March 12, 2013, 250 waste pickers, mostly members of the ARB, received from the Mayor, the “PIN” or banking system, through which the Mayor is going to grant payment for the tons transported since December 2012.
This single payment method is transitional but it is very effective, as it relieves pressure on organizational processes, provides sufficient time to strengthen existing organizations, and avoids the creation of fake recyclers’ organizations.
I think the first payment is the key moment, as it’s legally called “an accomplished fact”, and means that all other recyclers in the Colombia may demand the same treatment and the same solutions recyclers in Bogotá have achieved. This will be so important for our future work, sharing with others municipalities these court orders, creating possibilities of negotiation between authorities and recyclers, and developing inclusive models of waste management. I’ll be sharing with you the progress of this process.
Recicladores of Bogotá wait to receive information from the municipal government about how to deposit their payment into their bank accounts. Photo credit: Federico Parra.
In Bogota, the Mayor´s Office launched a payment system for waste pickers in exchange for their services collecting and transporting recyclable materials.
After going through security protocols, each received a PIN to claim their payment in any teller machine. Once they introduced their PIN in the teller machine, they received their payment. People burst into applause, jubilant shouts and even tears. “No more speeches! No more announcements!”—They shouted. Photo credit: Federico Parra.
Many of them, still in shock, could not do anything other than repeat their thanks. However, the work that remains will be a challenge —the promise is to have all the 14,400 waste pickers in Bogota included into this system. The idea is also that in a few years waste pickers will be organized to provide collection and transportation services of recyclable materials, and that they will also receive (why not?) remuneration for the other environmental services they provide. Photo credit: Federico Parra.
Photo credit: Federico Parra.
An event kicking off the historic payments at city hall auditorium was held on March 21. Waste pickers´ leaders, independent waste pickers, city officials and the Mayor himself attended. There, the city government explained how waste pickers would receive payment for each tonne of collected and transported recyclables. With an automated teller machine in the middle of the auditorium, the mayor invited two waste pickers to demonstrate. Each one of them sent a text message with their mobile phones to the bank branch in charge of doing the transaction. Photo credit: Federico Parra.
Photo credit: Federico Parra.
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