First modification: 06/19/2021 – 03:59
The coronavirus pandemic and changes in consumer habits threaten to end a decades-long practice of allowing older people in Mexico to earn additional income by working as grocery packers.
After more than a year at home, packers over 60 expected to return to Walmart stores in Mexico City in May, when the Mexican capital relaxed its pandemic restrictions. But the largest retailer in the country – and the world – announced this week that it will not allow them to return.
In some parts of Mexico, the packers of the chain stores are usually teenagers entering the working life. But in many others, older adults are encouraged to do this.
Within the framework of a program arranged several years ago with the National Institute for Older Adults, those over 60 years of age, generally relegated from the labor market, have been able to obtain income through this means. However, the pandemic and the new more environmentally friendly consumption habits threaten this activity.
The Mexican subsidiary of US giant Walmart said it had notified the entity in December that the deal would not be renewed.
#At the moment Senior packers ask Walmart to let them work again. Since March 2020 they were sent home due to the pandemic, Walmart is the only store that has not allowed the return of the packers, even if they are already vaccinated
For @ignalba pic.twitter.com/JaZYYw7P7B
– Footer (@PdPagina) June 16, 2021
The retail chain claimed that the ban on plastic bags in Mexico City and the Covid-19 pandemic meant that customers no longer want other people to touch their products, especially groceries.
“Due to the health emergency, we have seen that our customers want to prevent third parties from having contact with their purchases,” the Walmart subsidiary in Mexico developed in a statement. “Added to this is the fact that, under current law to protect the environment, we have stopped giving out single-use plastic bags for free.”
“For this reason, our customers now bring their own reusable bags and have become accustomed to packing their own purchases,” the statement continued.
The packers, whose work is considered voluntary and does not have a direct contract with the company, have held a series of protests over the past two weeks in front of grocery stores and government offices, with signs reading “We want to work!”
At the same time, they complain that most employers are unwilling to hire them, a situation that will likely only get worse in the wake of the pandemic.