Sunday, October 5, 2008

One perspective on #9

Ok, so I think I made some of you think about the items in the post below. And since I will be travelling AGAIN (groan) and likely won't be writing for a day or so, I did want to clarify one item before anyone thinks I think it's a 'pro' that the "Minimum daily wage is less than $5 US per day". No way!

However, let's try to discover the pro. Perhaps someone wishing to move to Mexico, reading about the low pay, would think "Great! At those wages I will be able to afford a maid, a gardener, and a cook!". To that person, the low wages might be one reason they might list on their 'plus' side when deciding whether or not to move to Mexico. Mexico's low wages may offer them the opportunity to live a different lifestyle than they might in other countries where the pay is higher. A pro for them.

Personally, in more than 6 years here, I have never paid anyone $5 per day. I'm not sure I know anyone who has, either. I do know workers who were making $10 per day. I don't know how anyone survives on that pay though. One rosticeria chicken dinner costs $8. If you have a spouse and kids, how many meals will you get out of that? And that's just food. What about housing, clothing, transportation, school? How does anyone afford to live on that level of pay?

Take a look at many Mexican families. They share living space with other familiy members, and they jointly contribute to the living expenses. They open up the front of their homes to run a small business selling groceries, clothing, paper supplies, tools, mechanic repair, etc. They build another level on their house to gain space to rent to others. Would you be willing to give up the privacy of your home to do that?

How does anyone save for the future? Get preventative dental care? Pay for medication when someone is ill? Buy land? Build a home? Buy life insurance?

I tried to find out the average daily wage. One source claimed it to be around $20 per day. Another claimed it was more like $10. Obviously the wage depends on the level of education and type of work, so perhaps a general average isn't a good statistic without knowing the demographics behind it.

I'm not an economist. But for me, I would love to know that most Mexicans are really making a lot more than $5 US per day.

And that is just one woman's personal opinion on #9. This was probably my most passionate item, so the rest will just be fun to speculate about. Right? (or are you already bored and wish I would go back to posting about the antics of the pets?) :-)


IslaZina said...

$20 a day or any part of seems to be the going rate for casual labor. Just show up, and ka-ching, 200 pesos.
$150 a week for contract labor, as in masons, who work 8 hours a day, six days a week. If you use a contractor to supervise and interpret for you, triple that. Being bilingual is a real help.
A worker who worked his heart out was talking about his floor. Low maintenance. "But you'd never live there. It's cement."
The workers who have been around recently are not happy with this inflation. They see tip happy gringos as having driven up their daily cost of living toward the $8 rosticeria chickens that they can make for $2.50 at home. 10.5 pesos for a kilo of tortillas and the family is fed.
Men who work really hard all day for 200 pesos are unhappy that women can go into a house and do a quick clean without getting dirty for 200 pesos as well.
There is tension among those who want to keep prices level and those who seek foreigners as a source of easy money. That's the way I see it.

Islagringo said...

This I know: brick layers earn 150 pesos per day, ayudantes earn 45. Waiters downtown earn 80 pesos per shift, sometimes that is 12 hours. My weekly cleaning lady gets paid 300 pesos for 2.5 hours of work, 150 for the 1.5 hours it takes her to clean the cabana. Her husband was injured in a lobstering accident and can't work. You know what that means. She is the sole bread winner. Her son also works in the lobster industry, has gone through decompression twice and was lost at sea and presumed dead once. (you can read that story on my blog) I remained mystified, confused and depressed on how they can live on so little. But they do. Zina is correct though. There is a lot of anamosity towards the rich gringo community here. A not to be named gringo just had his garage doors stripped and repainted. He hired a friend of mine who really did not want the job. So he gave him the price of 7000 pesos for doing the job. Unnamed person didn't bat an eye. Just said ok and paid him! No wonder they think we all have money trees!

IslaZina said...

I rode around with my mason a lot today and he named names and pointed to job sites where masons were making $5 a day. They were Chiapans working for Mexican conractors on gringo job sites.
He also named gringos who didn't pay for work done by various locals, and other foreigners who had to be taken to court for long term payroll payment. I can't believe what people think they can get away with. Yes, I am frugal and drive a hard bargain, most times. I'm not stupid. I also know that $20 handbags are not an entitlement. I live accordingly and it seems to make things go smoother for me than it does for some others.