Food for Thought (Lima)
Food for thought, it strikes me that when talking about workers’ rights you are met with such horrible comments most of which are that these rights don´t exist. I am writing this merely as something to think about and the situation I to also find myself in.
Well I work in the US embassy in Peru for a company that helps the embassy in Peru, now at first when I got this job I believed that I would have a good job and such and that I would be treated fairly because I had the illusion that the Americans that work within the embassy would not allow such dire work conditions however during the six months I have noted and seen soo many breaches of workers’ rights that are in my opinion essential to a good working life. I shall proceed to note some of the compliments that I see as valid, now most of you who read this will only see me as person who complains and does not get on with his work but I hope you shall see differently at the end.
Firstly, work hours in this job are brutal and unfair I and the rest of the team are working 60 hours a week, totally Protected content a month this is also including working public holidays and nights with a day and half rest. Yes we are paid above the national minimum wage and most think that should be enough and I should be happy but when does work become life and you have no time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, what is the purpose of that?? Now I know that national law states that 48 hours a week is the norm and that anything after is purely voluntary. This is far from the truth because you are literally held at ransom by your necessity to pay the bills and rent what I mean by this is that when you ask the boss to work 48 hours a week and all you are met with is that if you want to work 48 hours a week fine but not here, meaning they will fire you for asking that.
Secondly, “Basic Admin Task” clause in the contract is meaningless and can make the worker do whatever the bosses asks, for example a few months ago we were presented with a task. This task involved translating the company policy book, 20 pages for each worker this to me is incorrect so I questioned the boss even against the advice of my coworkers on why I had to do a task that was not in my job description. This proved to be a bad move just like the coworkers told me because after 2 weeks of resisting I was sent to the main headquarters and I was verbally beaten into submission and what did the boss present in order to break me and make me do this well it went like this “in your contract it states basic admin tasks, this translation task is a basic admin task so you do it without question” and the boss also threatened to fire me if I did not proceed with the task.
Third point, scapegoating and being treated as a second class citizen; in the company I work for I am the only foreigner working there however since I am working for this certain company I am treated with the same disrespect like everyone else. We are constantly talked down to and every little thing that goes wrong in the company is our fault and not the management when it is clear to see that management is also at fault here, my boss also does not know how our department works and continually asks what the procedures are. Poor leadership leads to poor workmanship. Deductions are also taking from our pay when things go wrong but this to me is insane these deductions are enacted by people who work 40 hours a week, now I say this in defense of my coworkers as some have been found sleeping on the job, bad I know but take into consideration that some of these people are working 60 to 72 hours a week. Also they have do things at home so rest does not come easy.
The final point I wish to make is that most people who I speak with say all I do is complain and do nothing else, some say why don´t quit and move on while others say that I accepted the job and now should just work.
The thing is it is not that simple, I have very limited opportunities to work in Peru but I wish to work because I want to stay with my girlfriend and this is the situation that most find themselves in the necessity to work is the driving force even when it makes them unhappy. Also I wish to discuss these points with my boss however, if do I would be fired on the spot and I have no real evidence to complain to any governing body. A reoccurring theme here in Peru is that most workers do not understand what rights they have and those that do are unable to exercise them even when work is abusive because Peruvian companies go by there is over Protected content who can take your position you cause problems no problem we will get rid of you and replace you. I also discussed with my girlfriend if I should go to the Ministry of Work, I was advised against it why, because she told me that I would probably lose because I would not be able to gain enough evidence to win and that I would most likely get into serious trouble for defamation.
Another irritating point I am also presented with “Why don´t I go back home?” people sometimes ask me that why don´t you go back to England if things are soo much better there. This is ludicrous just because you refuse to see if does not mean these problems don´t exist.
I understand truly I do that some people in Peru are far worse abused and some are homeless but does that truly make work abuse right, when does being homeless and abused at work become the same thing? Is necessity the only reason why we should work, when do have the right to say no this not right??