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Christmas extra pay, a mirage for Venezuelan workers

The Christmas bonus, Christmas bonus or extra pay, once an economic relief for thousands of families in Venezuela, you have been left with a negligible amount of money in a country that suffers a hyperinflation galloping, for more than four years, which has destroyed purchasing power and has multiplied informal employment.

The extra purchases or the celebration of the holidays in a special way, thanks to the Christmas bonus, are customs that were parked as hyperinflation has been destroying the value of the bolivar, a national currency that has undergone three reconversions so far this century. without being able to solve the problem.

And so, as the currency has been devalued, wages have lost value until they reach amounts that are of almost no use.

Currently, the minimum wage in the Caribbean country is 7 bolivars, which is equivalent to US $ 1.5.

As explained by León Arismendi, lawyer and professor of labor law, from this salary, any benefit described in Venezuelan law is calculated, and “although the rules are there”, the “ruin” of the economy prevents the working class from improving. your income, even with bonuses or extra benefits.

“Negligible profit”

Article 131 of the Organic Labor Law establishes the parameters for the payment of this bonus in Venezuela and orders that it must include a minimum of 30 days’ salary and a maximum of 120, which, in the best of cases, implies that a worker currently receives an additional 28 bolivars in the last month of the year, equivalent to US $ 6 calculated at the official rate.

“If there is a good remuneration, the worker receives a good salary, then he will have a good end-of-year bonus, but in Venezuela with this issue of hyperinflation and the destruction of wages, the benefit is insignificant,” said Arismendi.

The data was corroborated by Rosaura Uzcátegui, a public administration worker for 25 years, for which she receives the highest salary on the scale, and even so her year-end bonus does not exceed US $ 7.

In his case, as in that of all state employees, he receives 120 days’ salary as a Christmas bonus. But, in addition, she obtains about US $ 20, a figure that was negotiated with her boss outside of what the law establishes, as a way of “helping employees.”

“In previous years they earned a lot. From the utilities he charged four months and the truth is that he bought everything, even a kitchen, but not now, “he declared.

As in the case of Uzcátegui, to adapt to the reality of the country, employers, especially in private companies, have taken the option of giving their workers foreign bonuses outside the payroll.

Juan Carlos Toledo works in an electronic store and said that he hopes to obtain a bonus above US $ 100, thanks to the sales of the company. However, you are sure that no matter what you receive, it will not perform as in previous years.

“I believe and trust that at some point this has to happen. Someday the Venezuelan has to receive as he deserves it because for that he takes a leg (he works) in any country “, reflected Toledo.

Informality as an option

With the de facto dollarization, which is reflected even in the store counters that express the prices of their products in foreign currency, many citizens have opted for informal work buying and selling merchandise as a means of subsistence.

According to a study by the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Andrés Bello Catholic University and published last month, the level of labor informality in Venezuela stands at 84.5%, which is equivalent to “eight out of ten workers in the country are in the informal sector ”.

Thus, the end of the year bonus became an illusion for those who assumed work on their own and stopped depending on an employer.

This is the case of Yurmi García, an informal worker who assures that she must make her resources surrender to be able to pay for services and food.

“I have some children outside the country and they send me and I am helping myself as I can,” García said.

However, there are those who harbor hope that through formal work or self-employment the economic improvements they yearn for will come.

José Vargas is also an employee of the public administration and assures that with what he earned as a year-end bonus “there was more purchase mobility.” However, remember that “every employee, whether private or public, will never agree with the salary. We all hope to win more and more ”.


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