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Venezuelan workers protest against low wages



"We're dying of hunger": Venezuelan workers protest against low wages

"Salary alone" for hundreds of allied workers this week Caracas protested to demand better wages, as current ones almost do not give a chance to buy a kilo of bulbs for unbridled inflation.

Protecting dozens of policemen and military personnel, around 600 demonstrators gathered in the center of the capital to condemn what they called their "hunger wages" and the collapse of state-owned enterprises due to lack of investment.

"We're dying of starvation, I've earned 1,800 bolivars that I do not get at all," said 58-year-old Telecoms Cantv technician Fidel Villarroel.

With 39 years of service, his monthly salary is equivalent to 4.8 dollars at the black market rate, which is the prevailing indicator, given the lack of monopoly foreign exchange by the socialist government.

President Nicolás Maduro implemented this reward in September after a monetary transformation, which eliminated five zero-deflated bolivars. Then it was equivalent to $ 30.

Wages in Venezuela are spent on inflation, which, according to the IMF, will end this year at 1,350,000% and increase to 10,000,000% in 2019.

The cost of living – with a number of products priced above the prices of neighboring countries – is one of the dramatic aspects of the Venezuelan crisis, with a five-year recession and a lack of food and drugs.

The protest ended without incidents, when a man called on the police and military to "fight" with the help of a megaphone. "You have not reached the real (the money)!" He changed before a unobtrusive look.

The protesters also demand renewal of collective agreements, which include several benefits, as well as the updating of remuneration schemes.

According to workers, these agreements were left irresponsible when the 1800 bolivari remuneration came into force for most 2.8 million civil servants.

"This is the Cuban plan so that we all win the same," Luis Hernandez of the oil industry told AFP that 96% of the income in that country depends on imports.

Hernandez retires after two years, and he has difficulty doing it with a salary that currently only reaches just over a kilogram of meat. In 2015, the state oil company PDVSA earned $ 680.

"After 28 years of work, it's not fair," said a man who received a $ 70 profit this year. Before this, I changed my car every two years, he says.

He is very close to graffiti, "Waiting for Maduro's anti-personnel package," referring to the measures that the government set up at the end of August, faced with the worst crisis in the history of the once-richest oil nation.

Economists take it for granted that Maduro, a former unionist who defines himself as a "worker's president," will soon increase the minimum wage. But they insist that upgrading is far from the solution.

As long as the government maintains its model of economic model, it continues to increase its fiscal hole and maintain a collapse in oil production, which fell from 3.2 million barrels per day to 1.1 million in the last decade, according to OPEC

"They can increase it (minimum wage) nominally as much as they want. Without switching the model without increasing productivity, buying power is not possible," said Henkel Garcia, econometrica consulting company.

According to the oil trade union, starting with a salary of 157,000 employees, the PDVSA now has 57,000 assets, in addition to a "parallel salary list" of 35,000 that does not promote production.

"Workers are leaving us in other countries," said Hernandez, referring to the crisis driven exit from Venezuela: according to the UN, since 2015 it is about 2.3 million.

The leader estimates that the recovery of the oil industry in the next four years will require about $ 28,000 million in a country with international reserves of just $ 8800 million.

During the protests, volatility was reported in companies such as Cantv, Caracas Metro and the electricity sector.

"The quality of cantv services is terrible, I do not even have a pinch to do my job," Villarroel said.


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