In June, the 111th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) took place in Geneva, Switzerland. During the two-week session, delegates of the employers’ organizations, trade unions reps and government officials of Member States gathered to discuss international labour standards and consider changes in the world of work.
The International Alliance of Waste Pickers (IAWP) was part of the ILC thanks to WIEGO and Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), Brazil, providing space for two of our delegates: Theresa Bul from Association of Waste Pickers of Lagos (ASWOL), Nigeria; and Severino Lima Jr, from Movimento Nacional dos Catadores de Materiais Reciclables (MNCR), Brazil.
At the ILC we participated especially in the general debate on how to “Achieve a Just Transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”. This last point is especially relevant for us as we have been developing our position on what is a Just Transition for waste pickers in the framework of the International Plastics Treaty.
Theresa and Severino participated as observers and as part of the Workers’ Group to ensure that the voice of waste pickers was heard. Severino made an intervention in the Workers Group.
We repost a paragraph of Theresa Bul’s speech here:
We encourage ILO to address mechanisms to ensure a fair, equitable and inclusive transition for us. This would include integrating us into all systems to collect, sort, transport and add value to recyclables. Governments should work with us as partners in the design, implementation and revision of these programs. It includes establishing fair prices and environmental service fees, which our organizations are already pioneering in a number of countries. It means improved working conditions, access to materials and infrastructure, healthcare and social security; as well as legal recognition at our national and international levels. We must be able to continue our current work in collection, but also advance in value chains and decision making processes.
As a result of this debate, the proposed Resolution on Just Transitions includes guidelines recognizing that “a just transition is important for all countries at all levels of development, and for all economic sectors, the formal as well as the informal economy…” and recognizes the need to provide a conducive environment for social solidarity economy entities.
As Theresa said at the end of her speech “we must place social justice at the center of Just Transition”.
Related documents and speeches
IAWP participated in other moments of ILC 2023, such as this other intervention by Severino on just transition.
We wrote this statement with four global networks of workers in informal employment including HomeNet International, the International Domestic Workers Federation and StreetNet International together with WIEGO:A Just Transition for Workers in Informal Employment (ILC 2023)
You can find the conclusions on the ILO website: ILC.111/Record No. 7A: Proposed resolution and conclusions on a Just Transition (ilo.org).