"They won't fire me, but neither will they pay me"

Coronavirus impacts the country's markets and dinners, and this is just the beginning, workers say

  • 25/03/2020
  • 20:19 hrs
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They wont fire me, but neither will they pay me
Coronavirus impacts the country's markets and dinners. (Special)

Yesterday, Leticia Vázquez didn't know what to say to the man who asked her frankly. "Last night, I was fired. I worked in a bar in the center. They thanked me and said there was no guarantee to return because of the Coronavirus. I have to pay rent, support my daughter and my wife. Please give me work on whatever: I can wash your dishes, your curtains, do the cleaning for you. But don't leave me without a job," he said.

Leticia is not in the best position to offer him a job, either. In her reasonably inexpensive kitchen "El rincón de Leslie" located within the Leandro Valle public market to the east of CDMX, the number of diners fell to forty percent from a few weeks ago as phase one of covid 19 began. "I felt discomfort for not being able to give him a job," she regrets, "I said, as soon as this settles take a tour, if you still don't have a job and I'm still open, lets work."

"The man is just one of the many stories of unemployment that began last week as the number of infections by the virus keeps Asia and Europe on edge, and that America is just seeing growing numbers". In Mexico, cases are informed on social networks, where Twitter - just like the earthquake of 17S - fulfills a social function, in this case, to make real complaints and job applications at the beginning of this pandemic.

"My dad was not fired, but they told him that there is no pay because the gym where he works will not open," wrote @Mizh_ .3d. "What if my employers have me working without insurance and a contingency plan comes? What will happen if one of my colleagues or I get the covid? Who protects us?" asked @ IsraelS23276796. "I was not fired, but I didn't receive my monthly check if someone needs an English, French or Portuguese teacher I am at your service, I am also a translator, my mother is ill, and I need to support her," asked @Heziquio1.

Alsea is not the only case known, on Wednesday - in full vigil - a meat trading company located in the State of Mexico called almost 40 percent of its employees. Asserting their contracts made via outsourcing, the company informed them that in the face of the pandemic, they would go home without pay, remaining only trusted personnel, under the promise to call them back until further notice. The company that supplies meat to several large restaurant and hotel chains started this week with an average distribution of 28 orders per day, of the almost 300 that it usually had. What was lost was recovered. But these employees started the same day, without any income. And this is just the beginning. 

@Susana Distancia, unknown in Central de Abastos 

No one knows her. Or at least, that is the anecdote narrated to LSR, employees of dinners who went today to the most abundant food and perishables market in the country. They described that in the halls, there are no healthy distance cooks and customers; in food stalls, people continue to eat outdoors, next to each other; in the hustle and bustle, people shout prices almost into the customer's ears. There are few businesses such as banks or large seed stores where the antibacterial gel is handed to customers in addition to restricting their massive access to the market.  But that is the least of concerns considering that the dinners started the day with unpleasant news. In essence, there is a shortage of romaine lettuce, the 13 peso lemon per kilo rose to 30, the egg to 40 when the kilo was at 32; the broccoli is scarce because in the field they are not cutting the same amount;  it cost no more than five pesos a kilo, rose to 14. And tomorrow the kilo of tortilla rises.

Denisse in charge of Susy cuisine in the "Joint Effort" market, which is also located in the eastern area told LSR.

Apart from a sales decrease because students are not in schools, which is when many people come to buy food. Of five kilos of rice that we used to make, now we make three; three beans, now we make a kilo and a half; and five kilos of steak, now we only buy two and a half. People hardly eat here anymore. They come with their dishes and order to take away or order from home."

Elvira Tostado runs a small business of Oaxacan products. And while doing her job, she talks to LSR the weekend had a little more sales than usual, because the clientele started with panic purchases: more Jamaica for water; more mole for Lent. And with her face mask around her neck, she tells how her day is going. "Yes I wear it when I dispatch, and I put the gel on my hands; the problem is that one feels suffocating, it is annoying to put it on all the time," she regrets; but it also puts the focus on one of the primordial consequences of the covid 19. "The mask also gets dirty because we have not found any; We no longer know where to look for it. There are no more masks, and they only brought us a few. We had to buy a little more expensive gel for the client and us. I also purchased an extra two liters. "

In the Leandro Valle market, "El rincón de Leslie" is going through a similar situation. LSR verified that, in this kitchen, each client receives a bit of antibacterial gel, tables are cleaned with chlorine before ordering. All kitchen staff wears face masks; food pots are covered, and next to the menu, there are several messages urging hand washing. For example, Leticia Vázquez lists: before the Coronavirus, they bought a bottle of gel per day, today they use four, and the chlorine increased from using four liters per week to eight.  All the interviewees agree on one fact: given the shortage of antibacterial gel in shopping malls, the only place where they have found it -made in-house- is in the Central de Abastos and nearby cleaning businesses. Trusting the sellers who assure that the product is made with alcohol- consumption also exhausted for two or three weeks -, at 70 percent as indicated by the health authorities. It's a dace.

(María José Pardo)