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Wednesday, 20 January, 2021

Discrimination and pandemic results in Venezuelan workers earn 13% less than locals: ILO

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By Jessica Morales.

Venezuelan migrants, on average, make 13% less than receiving-country workers, according to a December 14th study published by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Also, about half of Venezuelan migrant workers have not been able to land a formal job and get forced to toil in the black or informal market.

The study indicates that Venezuelan migrants workers in all countries face problems associated with discrimination and exclusion. The situation increased by the COVID-19 pandemic. Colombia alone has almost two million new Venezuelan migrants.

You must read Desperate migrants in Colombia try to enter Venezuela by force

Sociologist Claudia Vargas, professor at the Simon Bolivar University (USB) in Caracas specialized in migration issues, explains that the migrant’s country of origin, discrimination, and exclusionary speeches contributes to widening this gap in remuneration.

Most Venezuelan migration goes not to high-income countries, but Latin American nations are going into a crisis of their own, such as Colombia, Chile, and Peru.

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According to data from the International Organization for Migration and the UN Agency for Refugees, as of November of this year, are more than 5.4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees, of which 4.6 million were in the region.

Claudia Vargas warns that Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador are the countries that have received the largest number of Venezuelans and face structural problems.

The informality rate, the percentage of workers that get no integrated into the formal economy, is 50%, which widens the gaps between nationals and migrants in the labor market.

“When these Venezuelan people arrive, who suddenly do not have a specific job, who were not previously hired by a company (…), they, enter the informal economy and of course this already somehow draws a big line in it,” the sociologist told El Pitazo.

According to figures from the Migration office, some 1,715,000 Venezuelan migrants are in Colombia, the first receiving country of the migration from the Caribbean nation.

Of these citizens, 946,624 were, at the time, in an irregular situation and therefore could not be formally employed. Ronald Rodriguez, professor at the Venezuelan Observatory of the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, highlights that the 48.5% informality of the economy country and the crisis caused by the COVID-19 make it much more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to have a job and access social services.

“The measures taken to try to contain the disease, have attacked, let’s say, the informal sector of the economy, particularly the street vendors, the day laborers…and this makes more complex the situation of Venezuelan migrants,” the professor told El Pitazo.

The ILO study, entitled Migrant Wage Gap: Examining the wage gap between migrants and citizens of host countries, shows that the pandemic has had a severe impact on migrant workers, with some forced to return home after losing their jobs. And migrant workers can not telecommute: work performed by them is less conducive to being executed at a distance. The document does not rule out that the crisis brought about by COVID-19 will further widen the wage gap.

Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho.

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