A senior bags groceries at a Mexico City supermarket. A senior bags groceries at a Mexico City supermarket.

Supermarket seniors among jobless due to coronavirus

For many, the tips they receive for bagging groceries is their main source of income

Major supermarket chains including Walmart, Soriana and Chedraui have announced that senior citizens who work as baggers will not be permitted to do their jobs while Covid-19 remains a threat to their health.

The decision is a big blow for many seniors who supplement their pensions with the tips they receive from shoppers.

Among those affected are 80-year-old Aniceto Rojano and his 75-year-old wife Inés González, who have been working three to five-hour shifts, six days a week, for the past 10 years in a supermarket in the northern Mexico City borough of Gustavo A. Madero.

“I feel bad; they told us we have to wait 15 days or a month [to see if we can work again],” Rojano told the newspaper Milenio as he burst into tears.

He and his wife, neither of whom were offered any economic support from the supermarket at which they work even though the chains have promised assistance, said that they have felt “useless” since they were told last week that they couldn’t continue working.

“The time passes very quickly [when you’re] working,” said Rojano. “We have to concentrate on our work and separate the products with a lot of care.”

González explained that they use the tips they receive to purchase essentials such as food and medication for her high blood pressure and her husband’s diabetes.

They are not alone in depending on the money they make as supermarket baggers.

Elizeth Altamirano López, a gerontologist and psychologist with the Mexico City Council for Prevention and Eradication of Discrimination, told Milenio that for many seniors, the tips they receive for bagging groceries is “their main source of income.”

Losing their jobs can also take a toll on seniors’ mental health, she said, adding “a lot of them lose their interest in life.”

However, for now, Rojano is remaining optimistic that he and his wife will be able to get back to work sooner rather than later.

“I have a lot of faith in God that we’ll all return to work again,” he said.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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