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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Miroslav Mitrovic

Miroslav Mitrovic, from Cacak, Serbia, has been a waste picker for ten years. As a result of the economic collapse of the 1990s, Miroslav lost his factory job. He couldn’t find another so he started to work as a waste picker, collecting and selling metal.

With the support of the Democratic Transition Initiative, a Serbian non-governmental organization, Miroslav is in the process of starting the first functional waste pickers’ cooperative in Serbia. Its meaning translates to, “How to Successfully Overcome Problems.” The Cacak municipal government and the national government are also supporting the process, providing equipment, space, and help with management. The cooperative will consist of about 20 members.

There are about 250 waste pickers in Cacak. In Eastern Europe, most waste pickers are Roma and largely discriminated against. Other issues that Miroslav is involved in include keeping children out of waste picking. He would also like to make sure there are guarantees in place that members will not lose their rights to social welfare while working at cooperative.

Miroslav participated in the First Global Strategic Workshop of Waste Pickers in Pune, India. The SWaCH cooperative model has been an inspiration for Miroslav and others involved in the formation of the Cacak cooperative.