Dear waste picker and allies,
Since our last newsletter Recommendations for Waste Pickers and their Organizations against Coronavirus it has been intense time. Here is a sample of what wastepickers organizations and supporters have been working on in the past few months.
COVID-19 has changed everything, the situation has worsened in many places, but the struggle of waste pickers continues.
We’d like to highlight 3 important moments:
1. Constitution of the GlobalRec COVID-19 Crisis Advisory Committee
A series of monthly online meetings since June 2020 have led to the constitution of the Advisory Committee for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers. It is a step forward from a very long standing process started in 2008-2012 (the Interim Steering Committee), resuming in 2018 until 2019 as the Global Process Committee calls, and now we are finally achieving a sustained participation of waste-pickers’ national movements from the 5 continents. Read more.
2. Solidarity Campaigns to Collect Funds for Waste Pickers in Coronavirus Times
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we have compiled the list of fundraising campaigns on globalrec.org, they are available here: Read more.
3. We repudiate the abuse of Lebanon’s waste pickers!
The Advisory Committee of Global Alliance of Waste-pickers sent a in solidarity with our fellow recyclers in Lebanon in these difficult times.The explosion in Beirut has worsened their condition in terms of vulnerability, abandonment and abuse than they had been suffering since the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns. These conditions pinch the migrant workers the hardest.The statement also denounces the failure of the multinational company RAMCO to pay the nearly 200 recyclers. Read more.
On Monday, June 29th, 2020 the second online meeting for the constitution of the Global Advisory Committee took place with the participation of representatives from 15 countries. They came together to guide the organization of their global movement.The delegates (list below) met in order to share their current work- menaces during our pandemic crisis. In order to deepen their previous conversation, they continued discussing the opportunities for global actions and they addressed representation issues for proper democratic decision making as well. New delegates from Kenya and South Africa joined.They manifested their respect and sent condolences to the Bokk Diom organization, since their president Bankhass passed away a few days before the meeting was held.
On Monday, June 15th, 2020 the first online meeting for the constitution of the Globalrec COVID Crisis Advisory Committee for the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers took place with the participation of representatives from 13 countries from the 5 continents. They came together to guide the organization of their global movement.The representatives of each network, country or organization shared their current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. They also shared problems by other regions-countries not represented in the meeting.They discussed the opportunities for global actions and started the conversation and process to address representation issues for proper democratic decision making. The group proposed to hold dialogues in their national movements, by country, as well as the Latin American Network, which represents all of Latin America and the Caribbean, to continue the debate.It is a moment of strong crisis for the waste pickers, but, at the same time, if they are united and organized, it can be a very opportune moment so that they do not have one more recycler around the world without a living wage!A series of forthcoming calls have been set in the future to develop the organization process of this global movement.
Video on global threats to waste pickers’ work (09/21/2020)
Recyclers around the world are tirelessly organizing themselves to seek protection and recognition for their work. However, serious threats to the work and rights of recyclers have emerged and become entrenched in different parts of the globe. Some of these threats are part of a model that seeks to hand over the work and wealth derived from waste to private companies, depriving recyclers of their livelihood: access to waste and its subsequent commercialization. Produced by WIEGO, this video detects all the threats to the work of latent waste pickers around the world today. The threats are a constant in their work, but the video assumes that because the threats are global, the resistance and struggle against them must be equally global and in solidarity within the working class.
International Live streaming: Waste Pickers Organization in the World by MNCR (05/20/2020)
The National movement of Brazilian Waste Pickers (MNCR), together with the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, will bring together waste pickers from around the world to discuss strategies to mobilize and struggle Globally, highlighting the essential work waste pickers develop, in addition to the recognition and appreciation of the category. Watch the video in Youtube.
COVID-19 and the World’s Two Billion Informal Economy Workers. Informal economy workers’ organizations across the global economy call on governments at all levels to partner with us on relief, recovery and resilience efforts that are emerging from the grassroots during this time of unprecedented crisis:
- Informal Economy Workers Are — and Have Always Been — Essential Workers
- The Global Economy Can’t Recover Without Us
- Economies Must Be Reset to Align with Core Principles of Inclusion
The COVID-19 crisis has drawn the world’s attention to longstanding inequalities in the way governments and industry deal with the world’s massive informal workforce. The International Domestic Workers’ Federation, StreetNet International, HomeNet South Asia, HomeNet Southeast Asia, HomeNet Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers — as members of the WIEGO Network — urge policymakers to implement the following principles in all their emergency relief and recovery actions, and in their strategies to manage public health and economic activity: 1. Nothing for us without us; 2. Do no harm; 3. See the transformation. Download PDF original version of the joint statement.
On Thursday April 30th, 2020, the webinar Waste Workers’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, organized by UN-Habitat (Waste Wise Cities Campaign) and the Wuppertal Institute, took place with the participation of FACCyR (Argentina) and Amelior (France), waste picker organizations from the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers. The video of the webinar is available in YouTube.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) we have compiled on the page of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers the different initiatives and actions that different waste picker organizations around the world have developed to curb its impact. For a few days there have been several crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds to support waste pickers in order to develop:
- Financial or food aid for those who cannot carry out their work and have stopped having an income.
- Development of safety and prevention campaigns to prevent infections and purchase of material (soap, face masks, gloves …).
We are compiling the different fundraising campaigns underway. If you know any more, send them to us!
Following its cancellation in Chile, the COP25 was held at its new location in Madrid, and both waste pickers and members of the WIEGO Network joined the activists at events simultaneously held in Santiago (Chile) and Madrid (Spain) in December 2019.
Chile: As part of the People’s Summit that was held, there was a meeting of RedLacre, the Latin American and Caribbean Waste Pickers Network. Among other events, we can mention: the presentation of the book Recycling without female waste pickers is garbage; the Latin American waste pickers assembly; and the workshops aimed at providing waste pickers with knowledge and tools to fight for their livelihoods.
Madrid: The presentation of “Don’t burn our future: waste pickers’ fights against incineration” was held as part of the Climate Social Summit. The event focused on finding more ecological alternatives to incineration, and included the participation of members of Amelior (Association of Waste Pickers from Montreuil, France), the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and WIEGO.
We repudiate the abuse of Lebanon’s waste pickers! (Lebanon) by GlobalRec Ad Hoc Committee (08/28/2020)
RECYCLERS IN LEBANON ARE NOT DISPOSABLE! The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers stands in solidarity with fellow recyclers in Lebanon in these difficult times.The explosion in Beirut exposed them to worse conditions of vulnerability, abandonment and more abuse than they had been suffering since the beginning of the pandemic. Especially to migrant workers.We denounce the failure of the multinational company RAMCO to pay the nearly 200 recyclers, we call for their prompt repatriation for the ones who wish to be repatriated to the embassies of Bangladesh, Indonesia and Egypt, and advocate for a better recovery of recyclers infected with COVID 19.
Extended Producers Responsibility Webinar with AIW (India) by Alliance of Indian Wastepickers (07/23/2020)
The Alliance of Indian Waste pickers (AIW) invites you to the National Consultation on Extended Producers Responsibility. in this webinar the panelists will include representatives of waste pickers and industry, who will be sharing their reflections on this document as well as providing recommendations and offering suggestions on the inclusion of waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors. Watch video.
Lockdown Diaries: Relief to the waste-pickers in the times of the pandemic (India) by Junaid ul Shafi (05/21/2020)
The COVID 19 Pandemic has impacted millions of families across the Globe. Countries from Europe to Africa are struggling to cope with the devastating impact of the pandemic and the radical steps taken to reduce its spread like national lockdowns. This article highlights the impacts of the lockdown enforced to stop the spread of the virus on the waste pickers and their families in India with specific reference to the work of Hasiru Dala in the southern state of Karnataka.The organisation worked tirelessly to provide relief material to the thousands of families. The article highlights the functioning of Hasiru Dala in battling the pandemic and supporting waste pickers and other vulnerable sections of society like domestic workers, interstate migrant workers etc. The organisation is ensuring education to the children of waste pickers and access to proper health facilities to the family members of waste pickers. This article also highlights the challenges and future threats and gives a brief view of the funding as well as the distribution of relief materials.Hasiru Dala was able to raise INR 50 million through different crowdfunding platforms, and the organization provided relief to more than 20,000 families.
Empowering and equipping the waste workers in the Himalayan towns to fight against the pandemic (India) by Team Hilldaari (05/16/2020)
Hilldaari is a project supported by Nestlé India and implemented by Stree Mukti Sanghatana along with Recity Network Pvt Ltd to build awareness and solve waste management issues in Mussoorie, Dalhousie and Nainital (Himalayan cities). One of the key focus areas of Hilldaari is to empower waste workers including waste-pickers. The Hilldaari team was at the forefront in the two cities to support waste workers with food, essential supplies and protective gear for working and surviving in the lockdown enforced to stop the spread of COVID 19. The relief material was provided to 284 families of waste workers in the three Himalayan cities. Watch video.
Post- COVID 19 lockdown forecast for the informal recycling sector and suggestive interventions to help in the long term (India) by Kabir Arora (05/11/2020)
The post-lockdown scenario for the recycling industry is bleak. It will take years for the supply chains to reach their normal level. They need support to kickstart their operations. The recycling industry is facing two major challenges: preference to incineration as it is a better way to dispose of the discarded material, which may be contaminated by the virus and low petroleum prices, which will make virgin plastic cheaper than the recyclable plastic.The recycling industry needs support like an injection of cash in the sector, through a low rate of interest loans. Innovation in recycling to ensure that there is contamination. Inclusion of the recycling industry in the essential services as it is an extension solid waste management ecosystem. Suggestions for emergency support income for waste-pickers and other informal waste collectors have been made to complement the existing income.It is predicted that there will be drop out of children from school. They will go to work as parents had near to no income for more than two months. They will need an extra hand for a little more money. Scholarships for children going to school is necessary to supplement their parents’ income and ensure that children attend school.There are going to be physical and mental health issues. Provisioning of quality safety gear, handwashing facilities at waste management centres, free prescription medicine available for all workers at primary healthcare centres and counselling and active listening are few ways to deal with the issues.
Indonesian Waste-pickers in a Dire Situation due to the COVID-19 Lock-down (Indonesia) by Alliance of Indian Wastepickers (04/27/2020)
Indonesian Waste-pickers Union (IPI) President, Prispolly shared a report of the status of waste-pickers in Indonesia during the COVID 19 lockdown. This report was presented in the webinar organized by Global Plastic Action Partnership. Prispolly spoke about the marginalization of waste-pickers, who earn their livelihood on daily basis. They have no savings. There is tremendous pressure to shut down the operations. According to him, if they shut down their work, how will they earn and how will they eat?He welcomed the support given by Indofood and Unilever and other private companies to help the waste-pickers. You can watch Prispolly in this video.
Suggestions for being considerate to the needs of migrant workers, single women, children and the aged in the COVID 19 relief operations (India) by Nalini Shekar (04/06/2020)
Bangalore based waste-pickers organization, Hasiru Dala has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka province of India for being considerate of the needs of migrant workers, single women, children and the aged. The organization has suggested that the provincial government should undertake universal food distribution without the requirement of a phone number or any identity document. In the case of children, special food kits should be provided with protein-rich food items like groundnuts, eggs and milk. For the inter-state migrant workers, identity documents issued in their place of origin should be considered for accessing food through the public distribution system and cooking gas at the subsidized price.It has been observed that due to the lockdown, domestic violence against women and children has increased. The organization has suggested measures like setting up of helpline for the survivors of domestic violence, counselling on the phone and provisioning of art therapy kit as a part of relief operations.
Include waste-pickers and informal waste collectors in the INR 50 lakh insurance cover programme rolled out for the health-care workers (India) by Alliance of Indian Wastepickers (04/02/2020)
The Alliance of Indian Waste-pickers is demanding inclusion of waste-pickers and informal waste collectors along with the sanitation workers in the insurance scheme for the health workers. The scheme is rolled out by the Union (National) Finance Ministry, Government of India. The cover of the given insurance is INR 50,00,000 (USD 72463). The argument for inclusion is that the work of waste-pickers and informal waste collectors is no less than the work of the health workers. By continuing the collection as a part of the other essential services, they keep the cities clean and thereby, reducing the vulnerability of the citizens to COVID 19. That said, due to the nature of work, their immunity takes a toll. This is why inclusion needs to be made.
Informal workers of India seek safety and financial support from the national government to survive Covid 19 Pandemic (India) by Working People’s Charter (03/23/2020)
The informal workers network in India: Working People’s Charter wrote to the national government appealing it to provide an emergency universal basic income of INR 10,000 (USD 144) per month to all the informal workers. The letter requested the government to put a curb on price rise, provisioning sanitation and clean water in the informal settlements and end to eviction. In the case of fatalities, a compensation of INR 1,000,000 (14400) has been asked. The letter demands special train facilities for migrant workers who want to return to their place of origin. For sanitation workers, compensation and support similar to the one given to formal (organized) sector have been asked for.
Picking through the Memories of Women Wastepickers of Bengaluru (India) by Madhuri Kamat (12/26/2019)
The women wastepickers of Bengaluru met at Hasiru Dala office. Long ago, they left Tamil Nadu and moved to Bengaluru and lived in Nayandahalli. They lived a life where the day started at 5 in the morning and ended at 5 in the evening. Started with bone-picking, they moved to rags and later plastic. Life was not very easy for them. From fetching water to the stench in the habitation, everything around was challenging. One of them lost their son to an accident. There was sadness. Yet they lived together, the life in poverty was hard, solidarity helped them to move through it swiftly.
Panchkula’s Wastepickers Left Dumpsite and Now Do Composting (India) by Kabir Arora (11/29/2019)
Panchkula Municipal Corporation (a town in the North Indian province of Haryana) has involved wastepickers in organic waste management. Earlier they were retrieving dry waste from the dumpsite. The corporation issued them occupational identity cards. The municipal authorities reached out to the Alliance of Indian Wastepickers for an exposure visit of wastepickers to Bangalore. The Alliance on its part awarded a fellowship to one of the wastepickers, who now heads organic waste management in Panchkula. They earn a monthly salary and are on the payroll of the corporation. The corporation plans to involve the left wastepickers in the operations of dry waste collection center (Material Recovery Facility).
Mangaloreans Initiate Removal of Plastic Waste from Their Coastline (India) by Rohini Malur (11/26/2019)
Hasiru Dala and Anti Pollution Drive have partnered to better waste management services in Mangalore, a coastal city in the state of Karnataka in India. The larger aim is to ensure that no waste is dumped in the rivers or on the coast. The initiative is supported by Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). The organizations have mapped the worst polluted areas and are working with municipal corporation to streamline waste removal from those areas and to better waste collection in the city. The intervention includes setting up of waste management system, inclusive of waste pickers in the city. Read full article in English.
The State of Waste-pickers Turned Sanitary Workers in 2nd Cleanest City of India: Irregular Salaries, No Occupational Safety Gear and No Medical Leave (India) by Kabir Arora (09/26/2019)
In the Indian city of Bhopal, wastepickers who left waste picking and moved into sanitation worker have no livelihood security. They are forced to go on strike for getting their salary. Arbitrary deductions are made from the salaries of the workers. There is no occupational safety gear. Recently, with the announcement of a ban on single-use plastic the prices of high-value recyclable material crashed, further reducing the income of the workers. The workers are in flux with low income, no occupational safety and are wondering whether it was worth leaving wastepicking work and moving into sanitation work. Read full article in English.
YoSoyLiliana: Condemnation of violence against a waste picker in Colombia (Colombia) by Planeta Verde (10/15/2020)
While Liliana Ospina Corrales, a waste picker by trade from the Planeta Verde Cooperative, was making her route to provide waste recovery public services, the neighbours and the community of Sector Los Remansos, neighbourhood of San Antonio de Pereira in Rionegro (Antioquia, Colombia) witnessed the violent acts committed against this waste picker, who was beaten and threatened with sharp weapons by an official from Ciclo Total company. As a union, we raise our voices so that our Human Rights are respected, and so that neither Liliana, nor any other waste picker, will ever again have their physical integrity violated, nor their right to life and to work. It is important to remember that Ciclo Total company was sanctioned by the Superintendency of Residential Public Services for failures in the use of the public cleaning service in Rionegro and other municipalities. We invite you to join the campaign #YoSoyLiliana.
Waste pickers from São Caetano do Sul abandoned amid the crisis (Brazil) by MNCR e Adalberto Azevedo (06/08/2020)
On June 8, 2020, amid the worst sanitary, economic and humanitarian crisis of the new millennium, the autarchy responsible for waste management in the municipality of São Caetano do Sul, one of the richest in the ABC region in São Paulo, cancelled the contract they had with the Waste Pickers and Recyclers Cooperative from São Caetano do Sul (COOPTRESC) since 2016. The note above sets a 30-day deadline for the cooperative members to abandon their workplace, with no justification. This is an inhuman measure taken within a context of crisis in which all the work routines have been violently altered. It should be stressed that several municipalities, including the capital city, São Paulo, aided waste pickers who were prevented from working due to the crisis.We strongly protest against such inhuman and ungrateful arbitrary action, which takes away the livelihood of 26 families of essential environmental service providers for the sake of environmental quality and people’s health.
Let waste pickers work in Porto Alegre (Brazil) by Alex Cardoso (MNCR) (10/08/2020)
Immediate repeal of the Melo Law. Right in the middle of the pandemic, the Melo Law, named after the former councillor and current candidate to mayor of Porto Alegre, known as the “carts law”, reaches its final deadline. If such law is not repealed, waste pickers will be prevented from circulating with their carts, which will make their important work even more difficult. If this law is not repealed, the State will wear a police hat and will boast about it, as it starts arresting excluded people for doing their job. First the carts, then the people. The only way to change this is exerting popular pressure. Sign this petition so that Porto Alegre’s councillors repeal this hygienist, biased and highly outcasting law, which aggravates the condition of exclusion of waste pickers. Sign this petition. Read another related article: Let waste pickers work so that life can flow! (brasildefators.com.br, 20.07.2020).
Red LACRE’s Letter to Latin American and Caribbean States by Red LACRE (05/05/2020)
We call on governments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to follow these principles, to defend and protect their waste pickers, because in Latin America: Recycling Without Waste Pickers is Garbage! Grassroots waste pickers in Latin America and the Caribbean united in the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Waste Pickers (LACRE Network) call on governments to:
- a) Generate policies to directly support waste pickers with specific food assistance and vouchers to alleviate the precarious situation of waste pickers, who will be unable to work on the streets due to this pandemic, particularly for women, older people, the sick, and disabled.
- b) To guarantee that we are authorized to provide recycling services during the mandatory social confinement measures, being acknowledged as an essential service.
- c) Provide necessary Personal Protection Elements: uniform, masks, gloves, goggles, and materials for hand washing and permanent disinfection systems.
- d) Authorize other entities in the value chain such as warehouses, intermediaries, and industries that use recyclable materials to operate.
- e) To involve us in the decision making process about recycling and waste management through our leaders and organizations.
- f) Identify the population of grassroots waste pickers in Latin American and Caribbean countries, conduct and update censuses and cadasters.
- g) As essential service providers, as well as medical and other essential service providers, waste pickers are on the front line in the fight against the pandemic. In this regard, grassroots waste pickers must be guaranteed access to adequate health care in the event of infection and ensure preferential access to vaccines, where available.
Mbeubeuss: Declaration of the Waste Pickers Association on the occasion of May 1st (Senegal) by Bokk Diom (10/26/2020)
Workers in Senegal and around the world are celebrating Labor Day this year in a particular context marked by the coronavirus pandemic. The Bokk Diom Association wishes to expresses its sympathy to the victims and extend its support to the health organizations and the Senegalese authorities in the management of the pandemic as well as to all workers whose health situation is affecting the proper conduct of their business. (…) May 1st is an opportunity to put workers’ demands back on the table and to call for the fulfillment of broken promises aimed at improving the conditions of workers. (…) However, Bokk Diom deplores and laments the failure to recognize the efforts of its members to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as well as the discriminatory comments made by many most of whom have never visited the Mbeubeuss landfill site. These comments are premised on speculation and are intended solely to denigrate a workforce that provides environmental services to cities without recognition, compensation or protection.Read orignal document in French (PDF).For the women waste pickers, as they are the most vulnerable
Two waste pickers imprisoned and denied access to medicines and food in South Africa (South Africa) by Lawyers for Human Rights (06/10/2020)
Two waste pickers in Centurion (Gauteng Province, South Africa) were arrested during lockdown in April 2020 for allegedly violating the lockdown regulations by venturing out in the vicinity of Centurion to collect recyclable materials in order to make an income. They were incarcerated. They were released in July 7th: the detention was declared unlawful and unconstitutional. Update 2020.07.07: Justice and George have been released today from jail. “The detention of the Applicants is declared unlawful and unconstitutional”, read the full judgement.
Sign petition: Demand the right to work and survival for waste reclaimers during COVID-19 in South Africa (South Africa) (06/01/2020)
Support the African Reclaimers Organisation, a worker’s movement of over 3,700 reclaimers in Gauteng, South Africa, in demanding that the National Command Council: drops the requirement for special permits for reclaimers to work and the requirement for IDs when distributing food and instead: ensures food; stops police harassment; ensures adequate sanitation facilities and spaces for reclaimers to safely store recyclables; ensures adequate provision of PPE and sanitisers for Reclaimers to protect themselves and communities.
Another brutal killing of a waste picker in Kenya (Kenya) by John Xavier Chweya (03/05/2020)
Our friend and a fellow waste picker Warren Jirongo, a 26 years old man at Kawangware, Nairobi (Kenya), was killed last month. He was brutally stabbed to death by his landlord over late payment of Sh2500 rent ($25 USD) and has since fled. This is one of the many careless treatment and killings of youth waste pickers in Nairobi and Kisumu that go unaddressed because these youth pickers have no one to fight for their rights or safety either because they are orphaned or come from very poor families where they are the breadwinners. This incident was for ones featured by the press (Landlord in Kawangware kills tenant over Sh2,500 rent arrears) because of the uproar and riot of his friends and neighbors.You can watch this report about the Dandora dump in Nairobi.Written by John Xavier Chweya (Chairman Arina youth Group, Kisumu).
Sure We Can in jeopardy! (United States of America) by Ryan Castalia (06/25/2020)
Sure We Can, NYC’s only non-profit redemption center, the new yorker canners association, is struggling by demanding urgently (and in the midst of this health and economic crisis) aid from their City Council to keep their historical place of work. Follow the latest updates and info on Sure We Can’s fight for survival in their Facebook page.
Ground Score, a new waste picker organization in the USA (United States of America) by Ground Score (02/29/2020)
A new waste picker association took root in the United States of America in 2019, and this year will be its first time celebrating International Waste Picker Day on March 1st. Portland, Oregon’s Ground Score Association is a fast-growing group of can and bottle collectors and dumpster divers who organize to access other low-barrier waste management opportunities like event waste management, and litter cleanup. Ground Score has non-profit status thanks to the fiscal sponsorship of a respected local non-profit called Trash for Peace. Ground Score has funding from private donations, profits from jobs performed, as well as the city’s Metro regional government. Read the full story (in English).
Sure we Can, organized waste pickers in Brooklyn NY, fights eviction (United States of America) by Sure We Can (02/02/2020)
Sure We Can (SWC) is a community space, sustainability hub, and redemption center located in Bushwick, Brooklyn NY (USA). At our site, canners, or those who collect and redeem bottles and cans to earn a living, come together with artists, students, and neighbors to envision a better world, expressed through recycling, gardening, composting, and art. SWC goes beyond livelihood support through community, providing dignity and building advocacy and by forging alliances at local, national, and global levels. SWC goes beyond livelihood support through advocacy and by forging alliances at local, national, and global levels. Now, that world is threatened: we need help to purchase the land on which we have grown, where we currently operate under the shadow of eviction. Read full story in English.