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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Voting on amendments to the constitution and proposed resolutions

On the third day of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers Congress, amendments to the Alliance’s constitution were discussed. An amendment to the definition of waste pickers to include the word waste pickers was approved. In addition, the Congress approved that the Alliance fund elective positions.

Resolutions and amendments session.
Session of amendments to the constitution and resolutions in congress.

In addition, the first eight Alliance Resolutions were approved. The resolutions are basic texts that will guide the work of the Alliance and will allow the affiliated organizations to carry out advocacy actions and requests to international and local authorities to improve public policies in this sector.

The approved resolutions refer to the following topics:

  • Social protection
  • Rights of women waste pickers
  • Child labor
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
  • Just Transition for the Right to Decent and Recognized Work
  • Economic independence of the Alliance
  • Political independence of the Alliance
  • Advocacy for governments to revise trade union laws and policies to allow registration of waste pickers’ organizations

The full final text of the resolutions will be available as soon as official translations are ready. The newly ratified Executive Board was delegated to analyze and approve additional resolutions. The resolutions that were not discussed and approved due to lack of time will be analyzed in future meetings. The complete list is accessible here.

The Congress received the Report of the Acting Secretary General to the Congress.

Presentation of the new authorities of the Alliance

The presentation of the elected officials and executive council of the IAWP, along with a welcome to them by Nico Caropresi (leader of MTE-UTEP), was innaugrated by the speeches of Héctor Daer (secretary general of the CGT), Alejandro “Peluca” Gramajo (secretary general of the UTEP), Natalia Zaracho (deputy and waste picker) and Sergio Sánchez, president of the FACCyR. They introduced the speeches that inaugurated this first stage with elected officials in the IAWP.

Saludo del consejo ejecutivo de la AIR:
IAWP’s officers and executive co-committee at the presentation at the CGT headquarters in Buenos Aires. May 3, 2024.

“Our path to social justice is marked by solidarity”. This statement marked the first official speech of the newly elected President of the Alliance, Severino Francisco de Lima Junior. “The history of a waste picker begins with exclusion,” noted Severino at the public presentation of the new authorities, which took place on Friday night, March 3, at the headquarters of the General Confederation of Labor, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sushila Sable,IAWP Vice President, stressed her desire to “ensure that workers around the world are never marginalized and never considered invisible.” She expressed, “Only if you’ve ever had your hand in the garbage will you know what it’s all about. I want to eradicate child labor because I had to do this since I was 10 years old. Whatever transition happens, it has to be fair and respectful of women’s work. we are all one!”

Maditlhare Koena, IAWP Treasurer spoke of fostering “a spirit of ubuntu (humanity) among us, treating each other as brothers and sisters, that we are in this struggle together.”

The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the venue of the presentation event, was founded on September 27, 1930. In a context of strong growth of the industrial sector in Argentina, the CGT emerged as the predominant central of the labor movement in the country. Argentina’s waste pickers are affiliated to the Unión de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de la Economía Popular (UTEP), through the Federación Argentina de Cartoneros, Carreros y Recicladores (FACCYR).

Severino is the Secretary of International Relations of the National Union of Catadores and Catadoras of Recyclable Materials (Unicatadores) of Brazil. Sushila is the Vice President of the Parisar Bhagini Vikas Sangha organization in India. Maditlhare is Treasurer of SAWPA, South Africa. They will be in office for 5 years, until the next Congress.

Presentación de la AIR en  en el salón Felipe Vallese de la CGT.
Presentation of IAWP authorities at CGT headquarters in Buenos Aires. May 3, 2024.

Speech by Severino Lima junior, President of the IAWP, at the awards ceremony

Comrades, Waste pickers,

It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you today as the first elected president of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers in this historic Congress of the CGT Argentina. I want to begin by expressing my deep gratitude to the General Secretariat of the CGT for receiving us with the class solidarity that characterizes our movement. Your support and commitment are fundamental to advance the struggle for the rights of waste pickers around the world.

I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to the host organization Faccyr that has made this event possible in a city that is home to one of the most important experiences of inclusion of waste pickers in the world. Your work and dedication are living examples of how we can transform our communities and ensure a more just future for all.

We cannot overlook the arduous journey that has led to FACCyR and UTEP. We recognize and deeply value your tireless struggle for the recognition of waste pickers’ rights. It is an honor to walk alongside you in this battle for justice and equality.

It is a moment of great pride for me to be elected together with Sushila Vice President and Maddie Treasurer to preside over this organization with a history that spans so many years of struggle and resistance. The story of a taster begins with exclusion, but here we are, presenting our international alliance in one of the most important venues in the world, sister of my lands, the lands of Lula.

Our path to social justice is marked by international unity. We need more than ever solidarity and cooperation between countries and organizations. I am confident that together we can build a future where the rights of waste pickers are recognized and respected throughout the world.

In this sense, I would like to call on the CGT and its authorities to join us in this important moment. We need your support and backing to achieve recognition of our nascent international alliance of waste pickers before bodies such as the ILO. Only by working together can we achieve our goals and guarantee a dignified future for all waste pickers and workers in the popular economy.

I want to take this moment to send a very special greeting to Natalia Zaracho, our dear fellow wastepicker and congresswoman. To whom we send a message of support and gratitude for her work to strengthen our fellow wastepickers in Argentina. 

Thank you again for trusting me to lead this important organization. I am committed to work tirelessly on behalf of all waste pickers around the world with your support. Let’s move forward together in this struggle for justice and equality!

Long live international solidarity! Long live the struggle of waste pickers!

Nothing for us without us.
No one is left behind!
Thank you very much!