work of the poor


LCleaners are the epitome of seedy, low-paying, ungrateful jobs. Invisible work, like so many other jobs that are fundamental to the sustainability of the economic system.

In this article, I will use the female generic, avis. The reason is obvious: beyond the slogan, precariousness is dressed as a woman. And the sectors of employees with the worst conditions have a clear gender bias, with minor exceptions.

Cleaning is a job for the poor, a job that keeps you in precariousness on many occasions because the salary is barely above the minimum wage and, of the almost 9,000 people who work in the sector in the province of Zaragoza , more than half do not have a full-time

9,000 workers is a lot. But looking at salaried work gives us a figure of thousands and thousands of salaried workers with conditions, it’s a frankly improvable understatement.

Out of more than 360,000 people who contribute as employees in the province of Zaragoza or just under 500,000 in Aragon, excluding the domestic worker scheme, how many have precarious jobs?

In Aragon, the former general manager of Figueruelas, now Stellantis, is still used as an example of a large company with a high volume of workers.

Well, in this case we’re talking about a few GMs with hardly any mileuristas. From work to shifts that include weekends and even holidays, such as in retail or hospitality.

Very heavy work like cleaning or exposed to bad weather like gardening or alienating like call centers.

Since I mentioned telemarketers, this is an interesting area to start with.

Between Abai and Majorel, for example, which serve companies like Movistar or Vodafone, around 3,000 people work, 80% women and a large part of the workforce on partial contracts.

For 40 hours a week, a little more than the Smic is charged and in companies like Majorel the agreement has expired since 2019. paltry sum.

Because if we talk about wages, data from the Tax Agency show that almost half of personal income tax declarants earn less than €1,000 net per month. The AEAT itself warns that salary increases do not match the rise in the cost of living.

In this case, we are talking about real wages, because, obviously, black money does not enter this figure.

This is the best-known case in the hotel industry. If we dare to enter the sector, we enter into absolute uncertainty.

It’s no secret: schedules of all kinds, unquoted hours, underpaid extras when paid, and a base salary that almost sounds like a joke. An average of 37,000 people work in the sector in Aragon, although the figure constantly fluctuates.

Of course, when we talk about a job for which there is no contribution, we are talking about an additional damage to benefit from unemployment benefits or receive a pension. Because when the contribution base is very low, the future (sooner or later we will all retire) looks ugly. A future that smacks of the perpetuation of poverty.

Contribution bases like those of the agreements which were so low that they increased with the minimum wage, for example that of the workers of the service stations. In 2021, a seller charged the paltry base figure of €987 per month. Remember that we are talking about establishments that open every day and some also at night.

But the examples of low wages and insane hours by convention are numerous.

One of the best known is that of supermarkets. With wages which, without being as low as those in other sectors of the trade, involve harsher conditions and hours which can range from rising early to night work and, in some chains, to work on Sundays and public holidays .

A nice salary increase has just been signed in the Dia chain, for example, between 8 and 12%. This may seem like a high number, but the average salary for a cashier is €1,093 for six days of work per week, which can include part-time work. In Eroski they charge a little more and about Mercadona and its excellent conditions, a lot needs to be clarified. Repeated complaints in any of these areas are working past hours, stressful work, early onboarding during holidays, or even not taking time off when you need it.

There is also another reality: often the positions are so poor that they do not retain employees.

Anyone who visits a store in any big box can see how often their staff changes. This is not at all strange considering that the provincial textile trade agreement, currently under negotiation, had to be updated in its lower categories with the SMI.

The same happens with other agreements such as optical workers, footwear or the furniture trade.

What was said: Thousands of workers were earning so little that the latest minimum wage increases have updated their wages. In areas like cleaning, which the article began with, they also add a common ailment to many agreements, such as the fact that salaries have not been updated by the CPI for a long time.

This means that in the midst of rising inflation around the world, deals are signed knowing that purchasing power is lost and accelerating inflation means your salary is going down month by month.

We should add to this text the harsh reality of self-employment, of the self-employed, often bogus self-employed, who are also doomed to the vagaries of the market and receive derisory sums of money. Or domestic workers, the greatest representative of less recognized and poorly paid work.

But it’s good that we focus on everyday reality.

Meditate on who is cleaning the bathroom we are going to use, selling us a t-shirt, or loading us into a box. Jobs that perpetuate precariousness, the jobs of the poor may go unnoticed, but many workers suffer on a daily basis. For this reason, when these jobs become visible and demand a little dignity, it is time to give it back to them, to remember that poverty by convention must be intolerable.

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