Decent Work

URUGUAY: Improving Conditions for Waste Pickers

"The time will come when 80 percent of the raw material used by industry in Uruguay will be recycled waste products," Marcelo Conde, a 40-year-old garbage sorter who has been digging through trash for recyclables "for as long as I can remember," says with some pride.

EGYPT: Minimum Wage Not Enough

A stalemate between labour unions and business associations is preventing Egyptian authorities from setting a minimum wage that could improve the lot of millions of citizens living in poverty.

RECESSION AND RECOVERY: The Lucky Are Unemployed – Part 1

The agreed, if dubious, solution to the financial crisis was to get people and governments - in the richer countries - to borrow more in order to spend more. What is not in doubt is the growing numbers of people who will be able to neither borrow nor spend.

URUGUAY: Forestry Industry Boom Brings Jobs and Challenges

"After work, when I'm on my own, I'm bored to death. If you want amenities, you have to bring them yourself," says young forestry worker Alejandro de Leiva, who works on a tree plantation in the western Uruguayan province of Paysandú, where he lives and works for 10 to 12 days in a row, with just two days off.

ARGENTINA: “Myth” of Egalitarian Society Fading Away for Young People

A study on young people and human development in South America's Mercosur trade bloc indicates that while in Brazil, the country's longstanding social inequality is the focus of at least somewhat successful efforts to combat it, in Argentina the vision of an equitable society is fading away.

PARAGUAY: Migrants Mainly Young Undocumented Guarani-Speakers

Freddy Garcete, a 50-year-old painter who works in the construction industry, travelled to Spain in search of better wages two years ago, becoming one of the 500,000 Paraguayans forced to seek work abroad because of the conditions at home.

Street vendors hawking their wares in Lima. Credit: Courtesy of the Community Development Association

PERU: Women Workers Forced into Informal Economy

In Peru, 51 percent of all jobs are generated by the informal economy, a sector that has a female face, as more than 60 percent of the women workers in the country are forced into informality, with only 15 percent having health coverage and a mere four percent enjoying retirement benefits.

LABOUR-MEXICO: Manufacturing Poverty for Women

A group of workers in Honduras managed to prevent the closure of an assembly plant manufacturing sportswear for the U.S.-based sports apparel maker Russell Athletic, thereby saving 1,200 jobs.

LABOUR: Sorting Garbage – Green and Dignified Work

More than 1,500 representatives of waste recyclers from 13 countries, and thousands of other visitors, including the host country Brazil's left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, met last week in São Paulo, demonstrating that they are no longer pariahs in our throw-away society.

Shelled Brazil nuts  Credit: Photo Stock

BOLIVIA: Amazon Nuts at Exploitative Prices

Bolivia is the world's leading exporter of the shelled Brazil nut, a nutritious food source that grows abundantly in the country's Amazon rainforest region. But in this tropical paradise, many of the nut-gatherers live in hellish conditions.

Farmworker in Sinaloa, Mexico. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

LATIN AMERICA: Strides and Setbacks for Domestic and Rural Workers

In the last few years, several Latin American countries have attempted to improve labour conditions for rural workers and domestics, whose labour rights have long been ignored. But the new laws, even those with limited scope, are not always enforced.

PARAGUAY: Health Insurance for All (Registered) Domestics

It took 42 years for social security health care coverage for domestics to extend beyond the limits of the Paraguayan capital.

BALKANS: Strike Wave Sweeps Serbia

A very hot summer of workers' discontent has taken over Serbia. Some 33,000 people go on strike daily in 40 to 45 firms, according to union statistics. They are mostly employees of privatised companies who have not been paid salaries or social and health security benefits for months now.

Migrant advocate Natividad Obeso Credit: Marcela Valente/IPS

Q&A: A Second Chance – As Advocate for Women Migrants in Argentina

In her 48 years, Natividad Obeso has already lived several different lives. There was the time when she lived in her native Peru as a successful businesswoman and mother of four. Then there was the time when she spent her days wandering the streets of the Argentine capital, penniless and alone, a fugitive of political persecution that she never understood.

Girls rescued from sexual exploitation embrace their new life. Credit: Courtesy of Grupo Luna Nueva

RIGHTS-PARAGUAY: NGO Offers Girls a Way Out of Sexual Exploitation

Claudia was 13 years old when she came to the capital of Paraguay from her small rural town. Just a few weeks after her arrival she was wandering the streets of downtown Asunción, a victim of sexual exploitation.

LABOUR-GUATEMALA: Domestics Finally Gain (Limited) Rights

"What really hurt was that they refused me my right to rest before and after I had my baby. Even when my contractions started, they wouldn't let me go to the hospital," said Mildred Díaz, a Guatemalan domestic employee, talking about the worst aspects of her job.

Rural worker Alfredo Cabrera fixes a fence in the Uruguayan province of Florida.  Credit: Dino Cappelli/IPS

URUGUAY: Eight-Hour Day for Rural Workers

Seventy years old now, Mr. Arrúa lives a comfortable enough life in Durazno, a town in central Uruguay. But he still remembers when his father took him to work as a farmhand when he was only nine.

Getting ready for the second shift. Credit: Marcela Valente/IPS

LATIN AMERICA: While Women Pull Double Shift, State Looks the Other Way

Little does it matter if they’re black or white, rich or poor, young or old. Neither does it matter if they work or hold a degree. In Latin America, women bear the brunt of household chores, child-raising and care of the elderly, while the state looks the other way.

Maria Vieira dos Santos

BRAZIL: Seasonal Widows

Maria Vieira dos Santos has raised her six children practically on her own. For more than a decade, her husband would be away from home nearly eight months out of the year, travelling 1,500 kilometres down south to cut sugarcane in the state of São Paulo.

LABOUR-URUGUAY: Stitching a Future Together

The group of women cross this Uruguayan town every morning, some on bike and some on foot, on their way to CODEMUR, a women’s cooperative that resurrected a garment factory abandoned by its owners.

One of the thousands of women laid off, outside a maquila. Credit: Óscar Sánchez/IPS

NICARAGUA: Women Bear the Brunt of the Crisis

"Don’t worry, your job will be here when you come back," Lorena Castillo’s supervisor reassured her when she asked to take a day off for a gynaecologist appointment. She had been working at the textile factory for the past six months and it was the first time she asked for a day off. It turned out to be her last.

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