The longer you wait, the less you work

“Hi, boss. I can’t go to work today. I’m now downtown, waiting in line to buy a new AC…”

In the last two weeks, lines at Venezuelan businesses have been front and center in our daily routines. Queues for electric appliances, lines for clothes, waiting for tools… they are the new normal.

Not that we weren’t standing in line before, but Maduro’s economic offensive shifted the nature of these. People keep rushing to stores and shopping malls so they can enjoy these State-sponsored mandatory sweepstakes.

For example, marabinos are waiting in line for six hours just to get an AC system or a brand new TV. Sometimes, the lines are only to get included in a list and then make another long line the next day. Many of them admitted that they’re skipping work.

And the catch is that this is becoming a trend. Last week, a representative of the Venezuelan Industries’ Confederation (Conindustria) told El Nacional that labor absenteeism has more than doubled since the start of the line-up frenzy (with Daka’s defacto occupation on November 9th and which has been formalized just today).

Labor absenteeism was already a serious concern after the passing of the Organic Labor Law (LOTTT) in May 2012 which basically prohibits employers from firing absentee workers, but it looks like the recent economic offensive has simply worsen it.

But that’s not the only issue. From businesses forced to assume serious financial losses to workers concerned about the safety of their jobs, we still haven’t seen the worst consequences of this surreal binge-shopping craze.

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  1. I have been told there are lots of people who are just queueing up AS a job.
    So, the funny thing is that there may be some hoarders outsourcing their hoarding to others and getting the surplus value from the latter.

  2. No wonder they don’t take their job seriosly. Salaries are a joke.

    A minimum wage plus benefits in Venezuela is VEF 4000 or USD 67 monthly (international poverty level is USD 2 a day). A nice professional salary plus benefits is VEF 12000 or USD 200 monthly. A magnificent salary for a high ranking manager can be VEF 60000 or USD 1000 monthly. In the meantime by black market rates real state in Miami is cheaper than Caracas, used cars cost something like thrice the black market rate for new cars abroad (used Aveo VEF 300000 is USD 5000).

    This is the golden age of gestores/coleros:

    People who buy in Mercal and sell directly on the streets or as prepared meals, or who queue outside supermarkets EVERYDAY just in case a regulated item arrives, or who just sell it across the border.
    People who get you some government paper or another: Registries, immigration, solvencies, CADIVI
    People who do the line for cheap tvs, banavih, etc and sell the spot.
    People who go to the supermarket, fetch a sack with some 20 1 Kg packages of cornmeal (harina Pan) and then call all family members to show up so they can comply with the rule of 2/3/4 Kg per person.
    People who buy an airplane ticket, get CADIVI, cash it (raspan el cupo) and come back to sell the dollars and complete the savings to buy a car, a tv, apartment, etc.

    It’s like this in Cuba. Jobs are just something you have to not be branded as some undesirable/hobo/panhandler. But tigritos with tourists, trading favors, business through a family member abroad, travel expenses from “consulting” work abroad, is how they make a living. (A professional in Cuba makes USD 20 monthly aprox).


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