A sensitive subject. You either earn next to nothing or you earn what the upper class earns in Europe. Yet you are still considered “middle class”. You know, we don’t even use those terms in Sweden, but here it is something everyone uses all the time. Only yesterday did I have a client who categorized herself into one of the classes within the first ten minutes of our meeting, purely to give me an idea of what kind of money she might have to invest.
Before I got my current job I was looking at job vacancies daily, and I sometimes still do. You never know what is out there! Some positions will say the salary on the ad, and more often than not that makes me not apply. For example, if I do a search today and filter through vacancies which are within the accounting or finance industry and ignore any trainee or management positions, the first position that comes up is Financial Coordinator with a salary between €1000-€1300. In Portugal this is a good starting salary, but in Portugal things are relatively cheap. In Sweden this is a disgrace of a starting salary, yet Sweden is also cheaper to live in than Brazil. In this particular case, it could be something I would consider but probably only after checking out everything else first. It is not a good salary here, but it is acceptable. In my case, with this job I could just about pay our rent.
Let’s move onto the next job offer, which is in the “credit & collection” area. This person will need to have finished school but no degree is required, however once in the job they will need to know how to “organize the whole department” and be responsible for giving out credit, so you better have good analytical skills and not loan money to the wrong person. Or else. In this job you are the lucky earner of €370 per month. Oh, it might be worth mentioning that these amounts are gross.
The other day I went to the mall to do some errands, and I sat down to have a coffee before I went back home. As I was waiting (!) for someone to take my ticket and make my coffee I counted eight employees. There is one cashier, two checking tickets and making coffee, two helping the coffee makers compete the orders (putting a sandwich on a plate). The other three seemed to be clearing tables and serving those waiting for a warm sandwich. There was a ninth in a uniform but she had a hand bag so I guess she was going off duty. My guess is that none of these girls make a basic salary over €250 per month. This guess is based on a job ad I saw today for a shop manager making exactly that. It is a freaking disgrace (was going to swear properly here but when I do my post gets blocked in Qatar… pfff)! It’s so stupid that it actually pisses me off although it doesn’t directly affect me. I said to a friend once that I think there are too many staff working at the places here, and I got the answer that I hear so often in Brazil “the rich don’t like to wait”. Ok, here we go again! The rich. What is it with Brazil categorizing everyone according to the size of their bank account? Brazil is stuck in the past, where “a poor child could not play with a rich child”. Jesus, get over it people! It is like racism and homophobia, why can’t people just bloody get over it?
Is it not better to cut the number of staff, train them properly and pay decent salaries? Empower your staff with competence and help them to a future of independence! If you train your staff to do their job well, and compensate them for it, then that person will be happier, more motivated and more dedicated. Right? They can live a decent living, and maybe even put away some savings. They can save for a deposit on a house, education for their children and retirement. Maybe not all at once, but baby steps take us far. And surely that would change the mentality that certain jobs are for the poor and reduce segregation as well? Maybe there is a girl working in that café who dreams of an education. Maybe she wants to become a doctor or a scientist, maybe she would be someone who invents a vaccine to cure cancer. But if her family cannot afford to pay for her education then she just won’t get one. Because being an attendant at a café in Brazil isn’t a job that will allow her to even consider moving out of her parents home.
I worked at a coffee shop in Sweden for two years between high school and university, back when I just didn’t quite know what to do. I always loved the café environment and enjoyed working there. I still love it and often dream of opening my own café. I made around €10 per hour, but as I was only working part-time I didn’t earn much. But, the job enabled me to live and in my free time I could better my grades in order to later apply for my preferred university. If I had stayed there and eventually started working full-time, I could have saved for a deposit on an apartment, I could have bought a car, have life insurance, go on vacation and I could have had children. I would be far from wealthy, but I would have my independence, a life that I worked for myself. And that is dignity.