Things That Matter

Thousands Of Mexican Workers Are Set To Get A Pay Raise After Companies Agree To Increase Wages But Will It Be Enough?

The national minimum wage in Mexico is just $5.10 USD per day. Although that number rises to $8.80 USD per day in the northern part of the country near the US-Mexico border. But, according to many reports, most Mexicans do not earn the minimum wage because there are so many loopholes in the laws.

One group of companies is working to better implement minimum wages and even one up the national standard by offering all of their employees a guaranteed monthly wage.

One hundred Mexican companies have announced they will raise the minimum monthly salary of their employees.

And, yes, this is great news for those workers. However, the increase will only bring the minimum monthly wage to $6,500 pesos (or roughly $340 USD). Yes, that’s $350 USD per month.

Corporate directors from Citibanamex, Corporación Zapata, Tajín and Grupo Pochteca, representing the 100-member organization Empresas Por El Bienestar (Companies for Wellbeing), told a press conference on Wednesday that the initiative will contribute to the construction of a “middle-class Mexico.”

“Starting from a base of the average home containing 1.7 workers, the 6,500-peso monthly payment will put us just above the poverty threshold determined by [the social development agency] Coneval,” they told reporters.

However, the companies in the group don’t actually have to participate if they don’t want to, leading many to question how effective the plan will be.

The company representatives emphasized that participation is not obligatory, but the group has been working on the initiative for five years and expects it to have a positive impact that will be reflected in the growth of the country.

“The impact in the short and long term will be positive, in the consumption and incomes of Mexican families. It will become a virtuous cycle and that’s why we’re making this sacrifice to push the country’s economy to be even stronger.”

They stressed that 48% of formal jobs in the country offer less than 6,500 pesos per month, but the companies in the group will all pay all their employees at least that much beginning on December 1.

Despite many businesses having held doubts about AMLO’s presidency and its effects on the economy, most of those have subsided.

Although the first year of President López Obrador’s administration has brought doubt to many in the private sector, the 100 companies see a more favorable and receptive environment ahead.

In accordance with what they have seen in the current international economic climate, they believe they can implement the change without causing higher inflation.

These 100 companies promise that the raise will not have a negative impact on prices, therefore it won’t have an inflationary effect. The objective is to increase the attraction of formal employment.”

A full list of the member companies to the group can be found at the 100 Empresas Por El Bienestar website.

Despite the proposed increase by these companies, the minimum wage across Mexico is still below the official poverty level.

Though, the country has taken several steps to increase the minimum wage for its workforce.

Starting in 2018, the minimum wage has increased each year. On January 1, 2019, the minimum wage increased by 6% to 102.68 pesos (US $5.10). At that same announcement, Luisa María Alcalde also announced an even bigger hike in the northern border area, where a free zone with lower taxes will be implemented at the start of next year. There, the minimum wage will double from its current level to 176.72 pesos (US $8.80) per day.

Speaking at an event attended by President López Obrador, other cabinet secretaries, members of the private sector and workers’ representatives, Alcalde said that for the first time in many years the minimum wage has been set at a point that is on par with the minimum threshold for individual wellbeing, or the poverty line, which is determined by the social development agency Coneval.

López Obrador, who has pledged that “the poor will come first” during his government, described the salary increase as “an historic event because together we begin a new stage in the salary policy of our country.”

However, even with the increase set to take effect on New Year’s Day, Mexico will continue to have one of the lowest minimum wages in Latin America.

The wage increase also comes shortly after the government raised the minimum wage for domestic workers.

The National Minimum Wage Commission (Conasami) has proposed setting the daily minimum salary for domestic workers at 249 pesos (US $12.70).

Commission president Andrés Peñaloza Méndez said that a Conasami study estimated that 90% of employers have the financial capacity to pay the wage proposed. Just over 1.4 million domestic workers, most of whom are impoverished women, are expected to benefit.

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This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

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Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Things That Matter

Sen. Ted Cruz Makes Quick U-Turn From Mexico After Outrage He Abandoned His Frozen Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz has faced a series of outrages since being accused of helping to incite the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The latest problem plaguing Sen. Cruz is his trip to Mexico while his constituents in Texas freeze during an extreme weather event.

Sen. Ted Cruz was caught boarding a flight to Mexico as Texans are left freezing.

Texas is being slammed with a historic extreme winter weather storm. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are without power for the fifth day in a row while the senator from Texas was heading off to Cancun. Critics are angered that Sen. Cruz would leave the state while his constituents are forced to boil water to survive one of the worst winter storms on record.

Politicians are calling Sen. Cruz out for leaving his constituents during a natural disaster.

The Castro brothers are speaking up as well. Texans are dying from the extreme weather after the power grid was overloaded from sudden demand. The power outages have lasted for multiple days and the death toll continues to climb from the freezing temperatures. So far, 24 people have died from the winter storm.

Part of the problem is that Texas has their own power grid separated from the rest of the nation in an attempt to avoid federal regulations. The decision was made in the 1930s after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Federal Power Act. This allowed the federal government to oversee interstate electricity sales. However, Texas utilities did not cross state lines. This created an electricity island.

People are not letting the trip go unnoticed.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is responsible for overseeing the power grid and officials had a grim revelation about the power outages. On Tuesday, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness addressed the media about the power outages.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” Magness said about the call to cut power to some customers as the icy conditions settled in on the area.

He further explained that some of the power outages could last for an undetermined amount of time.

This is not the first time Texas had weather-induced power outages because of winter weather. The state saw the same situation on a smaller scale play out in 2011. The winter storm in 2011 knocked out power across the state and yet Texas officials did not follow suggestions to prevent the current crisis.

A report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation called on Texas to “winterize” their energy infrastructure. The report highlights how the current infrastructure was not ready to take on the weather it experienced in 2011 and, according to The Texas Tribune, Texas didn’t heed the warning.

On Tuesday, 60 percent of Houston businesses and households remained without power because of the weather.

Sen. Cruz quickly booked a return flight to Houston after the outrage.

Facing mounting anger over his warm escape from Texas, Sen Cruz quickly U-turned back to Houston. He claims to have been accompanying his daughters to Mexico and not going on the vacation himself.

A flurry of tweets about the situation show a growing number of people who are skeptical of the senator’s statement. Ted Cruz was photographed with luggage both in Texas and coming back through the Cancun airport. The luggage has set off a debate about whether or not Sen. Cruz honestly went to Mexico to drop his daughters.

READ: Sen. Joe Manchin Calls On Senate To Expel Sen. Ted Cruz After Insurrection

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