What can cigar factory owners do to help the workers during a closedown? As we all know, the cigar producing countries aren’t rich countries. They are all developing countries with a low standard of living. So shutting down factories, either mandatory or voluntary, is being responsible. But it also creates a problem for the employees living from paycheck to paycheck.
So what can factory owners do?
Some factories, such as Nica Sueno where RoMa Craft is being made, will continue to pay the rollers even if the factory has to close the doors for a while. Skip Martin from Nica Sueno said “We told everyone that we would keep paying them through this as we always have. Most factories won’t, which is unfortunate. About seven years ago we were out of Esteli Ligero and couldn’t find anywhere. We paid people to paint and clean and do odd jobs for six weeks until we found some. Our people simply do not have the resources to absorb a week off of work without pay, much less a month.”
Tabacalera Aragon, the factory of Jas Sum Kral, is also paying the factory workers during the month-long closure. And all employees received a bag of supplies. And they will be provided tobacco so they can make cigars in the living room to continue productivity.
Working from home
But not all factories are that generous or can be that generous. But there are other options. Working from home is one. It will mean that some logistical difficulties need to be solved, yet it is doable. A lot of the rollers can work from home as long as the tobacco is provided. For that, some people will still sort out tobacco at the factory and prepare packages for those working at home. If the rollers working from home get a week’s supply of tobacco, they can continue to produce. Once a week someone will collect the rolled cigars. Those will be checked for quality, and per every accepted cigar the roller will still get paid.
We understand that this will take some planning from factory owners. But it will mean that there is more social distancing, as factory floors will be as close as empty. But cigars are still being produced, and employees will still be able to make a living. That way workers can still put food on the table instead of struggling to feed the family. Of course, profit margins for factory owners will take a little hit, yet not as much as closing down the factory completely.
Factory owners can also increase hygiene by providing soap and hand sanitizers. And by allowing rollers to work remotely, it creates space for some workers to be at the factory. With fewer people in the factory, it’s easy to keep a distance between employees on the floor. And that helps to prevent the covid-19 virus spread. Putting up screens between workspaces is another way to prevent spreading. Cubicles, like seen in a lot of American offices suddenly make sense.
And that’s just on top of our heads. If factory owners and health professionals stick their heads together, we bet that more workable ideas will pop up. And with that, cigars can still be produced instead of a complete standstill. Torcedores will still be able to make some money. And all without spreading the virus. That looks like a win-win situation for everybody.