Most of the articles I write are more centered on foreigners living in the Dominican Republic. Today I thought I’d write more about the locals. If you are living in the campos (rural areas) of the Dominican Republic it is pretty hard to get a decent paying job. The average worker in the fields in my area make between $10 and $15 per day for 8-10 hours in the rice and other fields. While there are some higher paying jobs in the towns, maybe working at a colmado (small store), banka (lottery booth) or one of the other stores, competition is pretty rough and so the pay isn’t much better. Then you have the large companies like Barrick Gold, it is the dream of many of the younger guys here to get “empleo de minas” or a job at the mine.

Without a doubt the pay at the mines is much better and while I haven’t personally visited the mines, I have quite a few friends that work there and it would seem safety and other working conditions are not too bad. You can either stay at the mine, or if you live in one of the towns near Cotui there are busses that will pick you up and take you back home each work day. The biggest problem with working at the Barrick mine is they pretty much own you.

Work Schedules

So far I’ve seen 3 different types of work schedules. Much depends on whether you are actually working for the mine or if you are working as a contract worker. For example Barrick contracts out security. I know a few people that work for the security companies that have the contract. While in the States we are pretty used to 5 eight hour work days with 2 days off a week or 4 ten hour work days with three days off a week that is not too common here.

One of the people I interviewed works from 6am to 6pm 13 days straight and then gets 2 days off. His schedule means that he catches the bus at 4:45 in the morning and doesn’t get back until about 7:30 that night. There is also the possibility of getting a 10 hour work day with the same 13 days on and 2 days off schedule but that is harder to come by and usually requires you have been with the company for a while.

Shift in Dominican Culture

It pretty much comes down to it that if someone takes a job at the mine you don’t see them too much after that, they live to work. That can be tough when the culture here is to spend large amounts of time with your families. So, is “Empleo de Minas” worth it? Well, it does mean having more money to buy things, but I am also seeing a strong shift in the culture of this country. While once it was family first, more and more the priority is to try to keep up with all the material things that they see offered on the internet and TV and family being shifted to a much lower position.