Waste collectors are coming out of marginalization and demanding decent, green jobs. Promoting sound waste management, calling for national policy changes, selective collection, productive use of waste, & involving their fellow citizens in the reduction and sorting of waste at the source, are some of the objectives of this campaign.
The campaign is part of a line of work that is being developed by the group of Health and Environment of the Uruguay trade union PIT-CNT, along with the Union of Solid Urban Waste Classifiers (UCRUS, a trade union of informal waste classifiers, and a member of the PIT -CNT), REDES-Friends of the Earth (non-governmental organization) and the Department of Extension of the University of the Republic.
Waste pickers are key actors in the informal economy, and in many cities, they provide the only solid waste collection service. Yet they often have to deal with stigma, exploitation by middlemen, and hazardous working and living conditions.
The campaign is an example of how workers organize, toward raising their political voice, demanding recognition and dignifying the vital work that they do which makes important social, economic and ecological contributions, such as mitigating global warming.
Through the campaign workers are encouraging the incorporation of civil society organizations in the sustainable management of solid waste in order to promote a change in national waste policy on the following basis:
“We the pickers don´t generate waste. Through our work thousands of dollars are retrieved that go towards the country’s economy and prevent solid waste from polluting the environment”.
To find out more about UCRUS and about the work of the waste pickers, their platform and their commitment to the defence of the environment, read their bulletin here.
This initiative is part of the joint UNEP-Sustainlabour programme “Towards Green and Decent Jobs: Enhancing Workers and Trade Unions´ Capacity”.
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