The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Written by Hasirudala


Country India

January 26, 2015

hasirudala 6

Hasirudala means ‘Green Force’. We are a membership-based organisation of waste pickers seeking to improve our conditions of work and ensuring our continued access to recyclables in the city of Bangalore. We work towards accessing the benefits of various government programs to which we are entitled, enhancing educational opportunities for our children and advancing the quality of our lives.

Women waste pickers organizing

  • Two homeless women waste pickers, both above 70 years of age, had never received pension. They traveled to Delhi to demand their pension rights along with thousands of other informal workers and underprivileged people and succeeded in receiving their pension. They were able to do this because of their waste picker ID card. Before working with Hasirudala, they had never had proof of address or any ID card. Hasirudala facilitates the process of getting this ID card from the local government.
  • Women waste pickers with Hasirudala have been trained and have been working at the biogas plant since October. It is a government plant that was recently built and Hasirudala was subcontracted to run it. There are five biogas plants in operation and three of these have a workforce made up of women waste pickers.
  • In October, one woman waste picker joined a commercial vehicle license class so she can eventually drive trucks for Hasirudala. Getting a commercial vehicle license requires a certain level of education and Hasirudala has been identifying waste pickers who have enough education to qualify them for a license. Hasirudala has been helping these waste pickers study so they can learn to drive commercial vehicles.
  • There is now a women’s team for loading and unloading the recycling trucks. The loading and unloading waste is of 100 percent segregated organic waste in the truck. Traditionally this job was done by men, but women waste pickers formed a unit and decided to take on the challenge. They find the job of loading and unloading far easier and more comfortable than picking up waste from the streets. This has regularized their income, allowing them to receive their salaries on time and on a monthly basis. Sarasa, Alamelu and Palaniamma have been loading and unloading organic waste into and from truck (see the photos in the gallery included in this post). Dressed in a green apron and cap, Sarasa said “This job is well paying, dignified and easier than walking on the street and bending a thousand times a day — I don’t know why women don’t do this work.” She is already dreaming about buying better clothes and planning a better education for her children. “We will never stop doing this,” Palaniamma added.
  • Many women waste pickers have signed MOUs with the local government to run Dry Waste Collection Centers in the city. There is a local government facility and Hasirudala has signed MOUs for six of these facilities. Many NGOs have MOUs with these facilities but Hasirudala has fought with the government, saying that the government should do MOUs directly with individual waste pickers and scrap dealers. Bangalore is now the first city government that has signed an MOU directly with waste pickers to operate a state utility. All of the waste pickers that have signed these agreements are women. There are a total of 160 such centers. Seven waste pickers and 10 scrap dealers have signed the MOU.

General update from Hasirudala

  • Hasirudala, a membership-based organization that strives towards supporting and improving the lives of 7,000 waste pickers, has created 528 jobs since its inception in the past year. The target number of 500 jobs for December 2014 was exceeded. This number doesn’t include people working on the biogas plant which will add another 14. We have the workers’ names, residential area and workplace. We are able to track them now by be tagging them with their IDs with the help of the IGG platform. IGG, or “I got garbage”, is an online interface created by the IT company Mindtree which links citizens and businesses with solid waste management services provided by waste pickers. IGG aims to bring waste pickers to the source of waste as uniformed service providers. Through IGG, they provide management support to help the waste pickers transform themselves into uniformed workers, with the promise of environment-friendly waste disposal.
  • We have created more than 200 instances of one or two-day participation in waste management events. For the first time, the Bangalore Marathon was a zero waste event thanks to runners and the Hasirudala team.
  • Since the IGG platform was created, we have been able to create a weekly report very quickly.
  • Our focus this phase will be to enter data with a hand-held mobile device, which will help generate invoices much faster. We will be training waste pickers to more diligently use handheld devices.
  • We have set up a system for access to scholarships and now have about 250 participating children. Our target is 1000. We have to make sure more children enroll in school and remain in school.
  • We have followed up with banks to open Ban bank accounts. It was not an easy job to open 250 bank accounts in less than two months with so many bank holidays.
  • We are also using the IGG system to connect workers to all social services so we can easily track who has received social security benefits from us.