The Venezuelan state-owned CVG Ferrominera Orinoco iron company informed its workers this week that it would distribute a provision of mortadella luncheon meat to workers as an “incentive for production” reward in lieu of proper wages and better working conditions.
Distribution of the luncheon incentive “reward” for the company’s workers took place between Wednesday and Thursday.
Hoy hay mortadela como incentivo para el trabajo esclavo.
Así de precaria es la vida de los trabajadores en una de las principales empresas estatales en Venezuela. https://t.co/Wz7xMrHY64 pic.twitter.com/EAuhMX21fX
— Luis Carlos ☠️ One Piece (@LuisCarlos) August 3, 2023
The company’s official announcement read:
As part of the policies for the protection of workers, the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana … within the framework of the fight against COVID-19, will deliver Mortadella as an incentive to production to the personnel of CVG Ferrominera Orinoco, under the coordination of its President Aldo Cantafio.
The announcement continued by claiming that the mortadella “benefit” is possible thanks to the “sustained increase of the productive capacities of the basic industries.” It also informed workers that they must present a valid form of identification and that preventive measures against the Wuhan coronavirus, such as the use of masks and social distancing, were mandatory to receive the luncheon meat reward.
While the Maduro regime stopped publishing coronavirus case statistics in May, and the country has long since returned to its normal day-to-day activities, the Venezuelan socialist regime has not yet officially lifted the “state of alarm” issued in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Ferrominera Orinoco is part of Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), a decentralized Venezuelan state-owned metal conglomerate founded in 1960 and whose 14 subsidiaries process Venezuela’s iron, bauxite, gold, diamonds, and other similar resources.
After more than two decades of socialist mismanagement, all of CVG’s companies are in a state of near-ruin. In 2019, production levels of Sidor, CVG’s flagship steel corporation and the country’s largest company of its kind, were zero.
Venezuela’s Radio Fe y Alegría Noticias interviewed some of the ironworks company workers on Thursday, who described the mortadella sausage provision as a “humiliation.”
“This is fatal. As if we were dogs. I didn’t go there. I didn’t go. It doesn’t make sense. With so many workers deactivated, they don’t give us food benefits,” a company worker who preferred to remain anonymous said. “My co-workers and I did not seek it. This is disappointing. A company that gave us everything, they took everything away from us. Before there was food, toys, and benefits. They took everything away from us.”
César Marcano, a worker with 20 years of experience at the company, stated that the “benefit” was “a disrespect to the workers.”
“We do not want them to give us a mortadella, but rather that our collective bargaining agreement be complied with,” Marcano said. “In that collective contract, we have benefits that must be respected. It is not a bag of food; we have a commissary, and there they should give food to the workers.”
Originally hailing from Italy, mortadella, an emulsified sausage charcuterie product, is one of the few remaining accessible sources of protein for Venezuelans at 86.39 bolivars (roughly $2.87) a kilogram for one of the cheapest brands. More expensive brands can go all the way up to more than $10 per kilogram, depending on quality.
Venezuela’s current minimum wage remains at 130 Bolivars (roughly $4.32) per month. Private sector wages range between $146-$355 per month on average as of the end of June.
In recent years, the Maduro regime has begun distributing mortadella sausages to “beneficiary” households of the “Local Committees for Supply and Production” (CLAP) program, a heavily subsidized food program that contains low-quality, often outright rotten food.
In May, retired workers from Ferrominera Orinoco protested outside its administrative headquarters, accusing the company of violating their rights, subjecting them to forced retirement, and forcing them into poverty through the non-payment of social benefits. The retirees denounced that none of their salaries exceeded 300 Bolivares ($10).
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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