When the vineyard workers hear the phrase "Full bins up", they understand that the end of the day has come. It is now time to return home for a bath and, hopefully, a good rest. Waiting for tomorrow, for another long day.
Wine has played numerous roles in human history, being used as a festive element, in religious ceremonies, as a medicine and even an antiseptic.
The farming of the vine for the production of wine is one of the oldest activities of civilization and, in Argentina, it´s an economic activity that goes all wide it´s geographical extension.
Mendoza, a province in the central west of the country, is recognized as one of the world capitals of wine.
The vine demands constant attention throughout all the year, off season included. There are multiple jobs to be done, culminating at the end of the summer season, with the grape harvest. It takes place in a hot and arid weather and involves hard work and long hours under an intense sun. For this work, which lasts approximately two weeks on each vineyard, teams of harvesters of about 15 and 20 people, gather. When finished, they will go in search of another vineyard to harvest.
Every day, around 7AM, they begin to work against the clock. The more grape bins filled, the more tokens they collect. One token for each bin. The value of each token, which is the equivalent to the transfer of 20kg container through a section of between 100 and 200 meters and, the subsequent unloading on a truck at a height of 3 meters, ranges between 12 and 16 Argentine pesos, depending on the varietal of the grape. We are talking about 0.18 cents of Euros.
The harvesters usually work in families, becoming a teamwork. They can collect about 100 bins per day, that is the equivalent to 16 euros.
Children begin to work on harvest from a very young age, which prevents them from continuing their studies, creating a high rate of lack of education in various areas of the country. Normally, this is passed down from generation to generation.
Many of these families move from other provinces and, during the harvest period, coexist in overcrowded conditions, lack of electricity, no drinking water and, therefore, low conditions of hygiene.
In a large number of fields, the harvesters are not regulated by any contract, running the risk that in the event of an injury or dismissal they may not have any type of legal protection.