This Week: Wal-Mart Isn't Fair to Bolivian Workers
|via Wikimedia Commons|
José recalls being in a meeting when a coworker complained about the low pay. A supervisor responded: "You don't have the right to demand anything here because we are the ones who put the bread on your table each day." José's job of filing gold created a lot of dust, but he wasn't given a mask for protection.
After three months he was let go, as were all but 30 of the approximately 200 that entered with him. José was disheartened. But that didn't change the fact that he needed to work to help support his parents and younger bother. So in 2005, he sought out a job closer to home--in one of El Alto's talleres, or clandestine workshops, that supply labor for the Aurafin factory.
"I thought I knew what I was getting into," José remembers. The experience was worse than he imagined: poor pay, no benefits, and long hours. Workers were forced to complete tedious tasks like braiding gold chains in rough conditions and with verbal abuse by supervisors. And it's these workshops that constitute the most glaring contradiction between Love, Earth's promises and on-the-ground reality.
Records released in 2008 by the Aurafin factory confirm 11 percent of its costs, or $918,000, went toward paying the workshops to produce jewelry--meaning a yearly per worker salary of approximately $574, or less than $50 each month.