65.6 Precarious and informal work of street scavengers in fortaleza, Brazil

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:35 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
João Bosco SANTOS , Mestrado Acadêmico em Políticas Públicas e Sociedade, Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Brazil
Gustavo MEIRELES , Universidade Estadual do Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil
Precarious and informal work of street Scavengers in Fortaleza, Brazil

The crisis of unemployment and the emergence of recycling industries has favored an increase in the number of trash scavengers in large urban centers, in associations or private junkyards, small-scale businesses, first links of the recycle chain. In the city of Fortaleza/Brazil, around 9 to 10 thousand people work as street scavengers. The aim of this study is to understand the working conditions of associated as opposed to unaffiliated scavengers working in private junkyards and to identify the impact of this activity in the health conditions of these informal workers in a precarious activity. The qualitative method consisted of interviews, focal groups and ethnography. The scavenging work consists of collecting recyclable materials in the streets, empty lots or dumpsters of houses and apartment buildings. The average daily earnings are very small and the extreme poverty of these workers is obvious. In relation to health, workers report back pain, traffic accidents, infections and injuries. However, associations can be a way to give the workers a sense of identity and inclusion. Although the scavenging activity remains an informal, unsecured and precarious work in both organizations, associations can promote a process of “symbolic deprecarization”, which can be beneficial to street scavengers and a model to workers in informal precarious activities.