Things That Matter

A 74-Year-Old Man Works For Uber Eats In Mexico City And People Are Asking Why He Isn’t Enjoying Retirement

Someone once said that you can tell a lot about society by the way it treats its senior citizens. In Mexico, older people are generally respected on a family and social level, but are often left for their own devices in financial terms. It is common to see people well into their 70s and even their 80s working to make ends meet. For them, retirement is like a dream that will never be realized, and everyday life is a constant struggle. This is certainly the case for many older citizens living in Mexico City. As the megalopolis grows and swallows small towns and cities with it, work opportunities become centralized in the capital and people, regardless of their age or health status, are forced to commute and work in CDMX. 

Such is the case of this man. 

Francisco Sánchez is a man in his seventies who commutes from Ecatepec to Mexico City to be part of the gig economy.

Credit: 24 Horas Diario Sin Limites

Ecatepec is a marginalized area in the State of Mexico, the most populated state in the country and one of the most challenging in terms of security and poverty. Francisco was spotted by social media user Edgar Tequianes, in the Zona Rosa area of Mexico City. Francisco collects orders from restaurants located in the high end shopping mall Reforma 222, and delivers them on foot to the apartments and offices in the area, one of the busiest business hubs in the Mexican capital city. 

He has become part of the digital gig economy at an unlikely age.

The photograph of Don Francisco using his mobile phone has made the rounds in social media, and people are praising him for remaining active and productive at an advanced age. In a day and age where ageism is prevalent (those over 60s tend to be considered useless by society, particularly by businesses) it is encouraging to see someone like this man. Social media users have asked others to be patient with Don Francisco and to give him a good tip when he delivers orders. 

Facebook user Mariana Santos has become his fiercest advocate 🙂

Mariana Santos has had some chats with Don Francisco, and she has discovered that he is also a swimming teacher. He told her that he gets lost sometimes. Mariana, who has gotten orders delivered by him, says that he is a gentleman and has a positive attitude. 

It all seems great… but is this OK?

Conditions for older citizens in Mexico are dire. A recent study by the National University states that poverty and loneliness are the biggest challenges they face. Recent data also suggests that 49% of older adults in Mexico live with $600 pesos or less a month. That translates into roughly 35 dollars. Yes. You read that right.

And also, the gig economy deja mucho que desear when it comes to workers’ rights.

Yes, companies such as Uber Eats give people more opportunities to make money and get a job when facing unemployment or when wanting to get an extra bit of cash. However, they are pushing the labor force into casualization, which means that instead of being employees with full benefits and social security (in Mexico, for example, your employer needs to pay a contribution to the national health system, IMSS, for you to be fully covered), they are casual workers with no benefits. Added to this, companies such as Uber and its many branches take a cut that can reach up to 25% of earnings.

Working for a gig economy company also means that you need to report it to the tax authorities, which take a further percentage. People like Francisco end up with about 30% of the cut, which is far from ideal. The problem with the gig economy is that it is not a complement to the workforce, but rather a model that is being spread into various industries. This will likely create a precarious workforce that will face even more overwhelming challenges when they reach retirement age and have no savings and no pension.  

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