Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The real story of Peru's minimum wage

Today in a show of blatant election campaigning care for their country, Peru's ministerial cabinet voted to raise the country's minimum wage from S/550 (550 Soles, or U$197) to S/600 (U$215). Which just goes to show what political appearances try to do at times. Here follows a translation of extracts from this article written by Carlos Mejia at Gran Combo Club about the wages paid at one of Peru's biggest retailers, the FASA chain of pharmacies, with over 200 branches throughout the nation and ranked number 121 out of the 5000 biggest companies in the country.

"Peruvians study hard for three years to get the professional title of "Pharmacy Technician". Others study five years to be a "Pharmaceutical Chemist". But at Farmacias Peruana S.A (FASA) those three or five years mean nothing at all. They're not worth a thing. Because the contracts given to these titled professionals are registered as "sales person", not as a technician in their respective branches.

"There's more.The company also considers that even though the workers spend eight hours in the pharmacies on duty, they're not working! Because they are "sales personnel" they assume there are lapses in the work hours with periods of inactivity. It doesn't matter if the workers are permanently in the shops and complete eight hours, do their job, look after customers, stock medicines, run inventories, clean the premises, take credit card payments, promote own brand goods, etc.

"And as someone in FASA realized that they were simple "sales personnel", they also established that they should earn S/170 per month. Yes, you read that right. Pharmacy technicians and some pharmaceutical chemists in the city of Lima and apparently other cities in Peru have a minimum monthly wage of one hundred and seventy Soles for eight hours work per day, six days a week." CONTINUES HERE

IKN back: Be clear, these people getting S/170 a month basic salary (that's U$61 to you, squire) aren't working in some texile sweatshop either. They're formally contracted to one of the largest retailers in Peru. This is just one example of very many more (ask any Peruvian about the wages paid in the clothing industry, from factory to sales outlet, for dozens of other examples of pitifully low wages) in the country, so when the world's economic talking heads start congratulating Peru for the supposed hike in the minimum wage this week, call bullshit on them all. Yet another example of Peru's style over substance that makes it attractive to foreign investors.