Entrepreneurs, not scavengers

The court ordered Cali’s city government to suspend the tender for a waste-management concession to give co-operatives of recicladores, as they are known, time to organise themselves and bid for the contract. The dump they worked at was shut down last year, as part of a reorganisation of waste disposal that has already seen three contracts given to private firms. Adriana Ruiz, the lawyer who represented the wastepickers, argued that taking away their access to garbage violated their right to livelihood and life. She also challenged a new national law under which wastepickers can be fined up to the equivalent of $500 for sorting through trash in public places. The court ruled that future waste-disposal contracts “should favour and try to preserve the status of wastepickers as self-employed entrepreneurs”.