At Royal Holloway, we are privileged to have an education (granted, at a price) but our rights as students and young people are never usually questioned. However, in many other places across the world, such as Peru, young people’s rights are at stake due to the ever rising changes in the national law. For example, one law, set to be repealed, would result in young adults receiving cuts in their employment benefits including reduced salaries, bonuses and severance payments.
Frank Guevara, at university studying Engineering who lives outside of Lima, describes the law “as a way to exploit young people. It wouldn’t help people like me. When I get out of university, I’d like to think that my first job would be stable but this law wouldn’t let it.” Frank further states that, “I have friends who are in full time employment. They’ve worked hard to keep up a good salary. The government have gone the wrong way to help people of my age. Surely this is for the companies’ benefit we have to work for, not ours.”
The new labour law would only affect people between the ages 18 to 24. With employers would be able to cut holiday entitlement from 30 to 15 days, many people think that corporations would take advantage of this – by firing older employees and replacing them with younger people. According to Peru’s government, this would allow youth unemployment would be reduced and the poorest people would be helped with this law. “The only advantage I can see is for people who have casual work. With this law, this would help them get more experience working full time. However, Peru has a huge problem with not respecting people our age, this is just one of many examples of discrimination against us and the government will hopefully put more money into education instead of trying to please businesses.”
The Christmas period was cut short due to the many protests over this law in the centre of Lima. Over five thousand young people protested outside the president’s house, Ollanta Humala, demanding this law to be repealed as many have compared it to slavery. “The police was everywhere in Plaza Mayor. It was a very tense Christmas, as almost every couple of weeks there was talk of another march happening.” This became one of the highest recorded protests, which, as a consequence, police retaliated with civilian arrests. “People got hurt, of course, but just from the amount of people who came, and the amount of times they marched should show the government that this law won’t help us. It won’t help the unemployment rate go down and it won’t change the labour system we have in place at the moment.”
The Republic of Peru, situated off of Brazil and Bolivia, boasts 1.28 million square kilometres of land and a population of around 30.5 million (2013). The capital city, Lima, has a population exceeding 7.6 million (2007 census) and as there are three main languages spoken in Peru, being Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, many of the citizens are bi-lingual. Peru exports large quantities of fish, copper, gold, zinc and crude petroleum, among many other important resources and has an increasing GDP of $202.3 (USD 2013), growing at a steady 5.8% (2013). It is reportedly one of South America’s fastest growing economies, halving poverty rates, 2005-2013. This paints a positive economic picture for Peru, however the facts do not show this is the case for many Peruvians.
The last recorded unemployment rate in Peru in November 2014 was 5.60%. This can be compared to the UK where the unemployment rate is currently at 5.8% (January 2015) with a population of around 63.7 million (February 2015), which is double Peru’s population. This shows that unemployment is an issue in Peru, and ever growing due to the current President Ollanta Humala and Prime Minister Ana Jara. President Ollanta Humala pledged to respect democracy and relieve the poorest people living in Peru by passing on the benefits of the growing economy in 2011 elections, but this new legislation suggests otherwise.
Youths between 10 and 24 years old make up 8.5 million of Peru’s 30.5 million population, that’s 28% (2013). The new law would affect these people the most and cause unfavourable working conditions. This January, thousands of Peruvian youths protested against the law, which was passed in December 2014, causing 20 arrests and 16 injured officers.