The Association represents a sector committed to all areas involved in the production of white meat, where workers are acknowledged and recognized for their contribution to delivering high-quality, healthy, and sustainable products.
The pork industry in Chile provides more than 12,500 direct jobs and 12,000 indirect jobs in more than 25 rural communities. The number of migrant workers in the forestry, livestock, and fishing sector for the April-June 2021 quarter was 22,741 out of a 482,246 total (Chilean Statistics Institute, INE). In its commitment to sustainability, ChileCarne appreciates and acknowledges the contribution of its migrant workers through policies and standards aligned with labor inclusion and the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 UN Agenda related to strengthening mechanisms that provide immigrants with access to jobs and contribute to a better quality of life for themselves and their families.
“In Maxagro we have been able to experience how diversity—not just of origin, but also of capacities, skills, among other things—enriches the internal culture, both from the human perspective as well as in innovation, creativity, and productivity. Our commitment to all immigrants on our team is to ensure their integration without any kind of bias and, above all, to guarantee safe and high-quality working conditions,” says Rolando Rojas, Maxagro’s HR Manager.
Víctor Valera, Quality Supervisor at Agrosuper’s Lo Miranda Plant agrees with Rojas and adds: “In our experience, immigrants are more extroverted and joyful. Professionally, they bring a breath of fresh air; for example, by explaining the differences between how things are done in their countries of origin and here in Chile, providing the company with a different view to improve its processes based on internal culture standards and what it wants to offer its customers.”
One of the key factors for migrants’ inclusion in the labor market has been the lack of personnel to carry out certain functions. Jaime Bascuñán, General Manager of Agrícola AASA explains: “The arrival of migrant workers has been key, as it has allowed us to compensate for the lack of Chilean workers beginning in 2019, mainly in operational tasks. Today we have 310 operators, 37 of whom are immigrants and their integration into their teams has been smooth. Most of them come from Haiti (62%) and I would emphasize their commitment and willingness to work, allowing us to fill weekend shifts, for example.”
Gustavo Michelangeli, Agrícola AASA Plant and Project Management Engineer, adds to Bascuñán’s comments: “A large portion of the immigrants who arrived in Chile have professional and labor training, so many of them bring an important know-how. This knowledge has helped us improve productivity.”
Work challenges for migrants in Chile
Ricardo Montero (32) is one of the more than 490,000 Venezuelans living in Chile. He has been Breeding Chief for Agrícola Santa Lucía for 1.5 years. He currently lives in a house provided by the company, which he is grateful for as it has allowed him to start a home. He highlights: “The company helped me a lot by giving me a house to live in and to start building my own space, because I arrived here with nothing but my suitcase. In professional terms, challenges are always there, as in any production system. But every time I have had an idea, something that could be changed or improved, Maxagro has given us the chance to do it and see how we solve it, providing us with all the tools.”
Elizabeth Salazar (34) is also Venezuelan. She has been working as Coexca’s Frozen Food Planning and Logistics Administrative Assistant for four months. She came to Chile six years ago, and currently lives with her husband, their three-year-old son, and her mother. About the challenges of her job, she says: “At first, I struggled with learning how to use the systems, as they were different from the ones I used in other companies. But the team is very helpful and open to teach, so I feel comfortable. I have adapted very well, and quickly.”
Javier Carrillo (35) arrived from Colombia 11 years ago. He has been Dispatch Operator for Agrosuper in Arica for four years. He lives with his Chilean wife and their four children, and he is grateful for having been able to start a family: “I thank God and Agrosuper because I have achieved stability. I come from an immigrant family. My mother was Spanish, my father Colombian, I have Norwegian brothers. I lived in Europe for many years traveling from one place to another before I got here. I started my family and achieved personal and economic stability.”
Settling in a new place also implies adapting your values, customs, and ways of working to the new country. Ricardo adds: “when you arrive in a place with a different culture, you have to think about how to merge those differences based on what the company and the job demand. My expectations when moving to Chile were high and I have felt comfortable in this company because I have been able to advance in my career. As a foreigner, you value that a company gives you a position of responsibility like the one I hold, and then you think: ‘I’m not in my country, but this is what I want. It’s my dream.’”
Elizabeth adds: “I used to live in a smaller city (Valencia, Venezuela) and I arrived in Santiago, a bustling city, so it took me a while to get used to it. I came to Chile looking for a new lifestyle, so I was aware that I was the one who needed to adapt. In the workplace, I can say that the warm welcome, patience, and openness in Coexca’s training and inductions made me feel at ease. On top of that, they appreciate me as a person and a professional. I can say that after six years living in Chile, I feel at home.”
In Javier’s case, one of the biggest challenges he faced was leaving Chile due to his mother’s health issues in Denmark: “I had to leave the country and coming back meant starting over. I had various jobs and while working as a bus attendant I applied to Agrosuper in Antofagasta. Back then, the issue was that my family was in Arica. Luckily, the company allowed me to transfer to another branch.”
ChileCarne is aware of these challenges and seeks to help immigrants overcome them. “All migrant workers take part in onboarding and trainings to be able to perform required tasks, with special attention to risk prevention. Those with less experience are recommended to begin in simpler positions, with a mentor to guide and supervise them. In the particular case of Haitians, a translator is assigned for them to receive instructions,” explains Jaime Bascuñán.
Victor Valera agrees that language is a huge challenge and adds: “In addition to speaking Spanish, knowing Chilean regulations is essential to do the job well. In Agrosuper we have the ‘Super Futuro’ internal process, where we train workers on topics such as Chilean legislation. Additionally, training modules on operational excellence and continuous improvement are offered to all workers.”
Rolando Rojas comments that “we believe that the recruitment of immigrants will continue to grow and that it will be increasingly common for people to move to Chile in search of better opportunities. This is why companies must be open and prepared to incorporate people from various backgrounds, especially companies that are strongly oriented towards exports.”