Nettime mailing list archives

Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops
coco fusco on Sun, 8 Aug 2004 15:50:37 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> The Art of Sweatshops

Here is some data to replace idle speculation...

Mexico has three minimum wages, which vary according to the cost of living
in different areas. In 2004 the minimum wage in Mexico City and along the
US border is 45.24 pesos (about US$4.10) per day. In smaller urban
centers, the minimum wage will be 43.73 pesos, and 42.11 pesos in rural
areas. Many Mexican salaries are pegged to some small multiple of the
minimum wage, making it an important standard in setting wages throughout
the country.

While it may well be that wages are low in Europe and the US (Federal
minimum wage in the US is $5.15/hour but many states set the minimum
higher), the situation in Mexico is far more dire, making the suggestion
that one might consider comparing the situations absolutely ridiculous. So
please, don't even try to suggest that Europeans or Americans face a
comparable situation - that is pure fantasy, nourished by a kneejerk
desire to obfuscate harsh polarities of wealth and resources between the
first and third world.

The percentage of Mexicans earning minimum wage OR LESS is much higher
than in the US and Europe. A very large portion of the workforce falls
into the category of informal or sub-employment, thus receiving no social
security or benefits, as well as less than minimum wage. Furthermore the
cost of many essential goods is proportionately higher than in the US.
Third, the limited safety net of social services does not extend in Mexico
to the majority of the country's poor

In Mexico it is common to analyse the wage structure on the basis of the
minimum wage. It is also common to refer to "la canasta" which is a
hypothetical basket with basic foodstuffs considered to be the daily diet
of the poor - ie. rice, beans, tortillas, etc. Reference to feeding a
family of four only refers to those basic foodstuffs.

Ranges are built around multipliers of the general minimum wage, for
example workers earning up to one minimum wage, from one to two minimum
wages, etc. Following this framework, in 1976 almost 50 per cent of formal
sector workers earned a minimum wage. In 1996 only 19 per cent of the
formal sector workers (defined as those who made contributions to social
security) earned up to one minimum wage.

The majority of minimum wage earners work in manufacturing (34.5%),
personal services (26.4%) and trade (14.4%), sectors in which 80% of the
formal workforce is concentrated.

According to a report from the National Autonomous University of Mexico,

 "...Mexican workers now have salaries equivalent to 0.01 percent of what
their counterparts earn in the United States. This disparity has helped
transform Mexico into a major exporter to its northern neighbour, to which
it sells more than 84 billion dollars' worth of goods and services a year,
with 40 percent coming from companies in its export-processing zones."

Coco Fusco

--- Jeebesh Bagchi <jeebesh {AT} sarai.net> wrote:

> >> Even Mexico, where the minimum wage is not enough to
> >>feed a family of four, is losing maquiladoras
> >>weekly to China.
> Is one persons wage sufficient to maintain a family
> in Europe and US?  
> Just, curious.


#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo {AT} bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net