100 signatures reached
To: National Coronavirus Command Council
Demand the right to work and survival for waste reclaimers during COVID-19
Support the African Reclaimers Organisation, a worker’s movement of over 3,700 reclaimers in Gauteng in demanding that the National Command Council:
- drops the requirement for special permits for reclaimers to work
- drops the requirement for IDs when distributing food
- ensures food distribution in communities reaches all, not just those with ID, passports, asylum papers, or refugee status
- stops police harassment
- ensures adequate sanitation facilities for communities, quarantining spaces and enough masks, gloves and other protective equipment
- ensures spaces for reclaimers to safely store recyclables
- ensures adequate provision of PPE and sanitisers for Reclaimers to protect themselves and communities
Why is this important?
Reclaimers, whose work contributes a vital part of the country’s economy and is an essential service, but whose rights are consistently violated and denied, are demanding that the National Command Council ends its policies that encourage xenophobia and divisions amongst the poor, and instead ensures the necessary support measures for all within South Africa.
Covid-19 and the lockdown measures have had drastic impacts on reclaimers’ ability to earn an income and survive. As informal workers, reclaimers were already among the most impacted by the deep, structural inequalities blighting South Africa.
The current policies governing lockdown mean that possession of documents or lack thereof is being used to decide who can eat and who cannot in communities and informal settlements during government food distributions. Hunger levels have escalated since lockdown began, and thousands of people are now taking discarded food waste from landfill sites to survive as a result of these policies. By denying people the ability to survive and lead a dignified life, the government is contradicting its aim of protecting the people within South Africa’s borders during the pandemic.