One of my most unforgettable experiences with WIEGO was spending a full day with a 70 year old woman waste picker cooperative leader from SEWA in Ahmedabad, India collecting waste - mainly paper, plastic items, iron and steel, wood, old cloth and glass bottles.
Since SEWA established waste picker cooperatives and negotiated with the municipality for better terms and conditions of work for their members, other waste picker cooperatives have been formed around India and the world. During the International Labour Conference this June, we talked with Suman More from SWaCH, a solid waste collection and handling cooperative that was established by a trade union Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari (KKPKP) in Pune, India. Suman said that before establishing their cooperative “when people passed us on the streets they would cover their noses, they would not talk to us or even stand next to us”. After the cooperative, she noted “there has been a big change in peoples’ attitudes” and that they “are treated with more respect”.
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