Mexico truck drivers: ‘There’s no room for rest’

Image copyright Abel Diaz Image caption Abel Diaz with trucks in his shop in Mexico

Alexis Cristobal is the senior economic adviser at Oxfam Mexico, which published a study on labour shortages in the trucking industry.

Mexican workers face a shortage of skilled truck drivers and crews. The report estimates it costs the country $100 million (£75m) each year in lost productivity and revenue.

Our producers talked to Mr Cristobal to find out why Mexico is struggling to find the manpower needed to run its trade links to the US, a key driver of prosperity in Mexico

Tell us more about your start in the trucking industry, working for less than the minimum wage.

I worked for 10 years as a truck driver, but I had to quit. The work is physically demanding, there’s no room for rest and because there aren’t enough young people to work this job, I thought that it was better for me to find work in a different area.

A trucker might make 5,000 pesos (about £190) each month, but they’re only paid once, and the rest goes to the company. So, at the end of the month, you’re not going to have any cash to pay for food.

Image copyright Abel Diaz Image caption Abel Diaz forges cartons for customers

Trucking is really competitive in Mexico. Because of the shortage of qualified drivers, companies will bid against each other to bring drivers to work.

The first problem is a lack of qualified labour. The next is getting them into the country and so far we’ve been so far unsuccessful in doing that.

Image copyright Abel Diaz Image caption Abel Diaz with people going through immigration checks

The Mexican government has said that foreign investors need to invest more in new vocational training centres. But, if we build more vocational training centres, do they get equipped with the right tools? Do they have the right relationship with the government? Are they going to be funded properly?

In Mexico, the labour market is very good at promoting young people to work in different sectors and in many jobs, but when we’ve talked to the people that own those vocational training centres, they say that they are not doing so well and that the labour market is not very predictable.

Image copyright Abel Diaz Image caption Laundry day at Abel Diaz’s workshop

We need to improve the state of the industry, make sure that people are working there and that they get trained up properly. We also need to make sure that we are investing in safety and health, so that we can be sure that they will remain in the job and that the trucking industry can grow, and continue to contribute to the growth and development of the country.

You can listen to the full interview with Alexis Cristobal on our website or download the podcast on iPlayer .

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