The social environment of the PWA project can be fixed upon a few numbers: Itacoatiara, the closest city at a distance of 45 km, has about 65,000 inhabitants: about 42% of adults in the region are illiterate; and infant mortality is about 5% (Precious Woods 1998). Against this background, PWA recognises that only workers who are healthy, competent, and motivated can be expected to fulfil their jobs properly and efficiently in accordance with the requirements for environmentally sound forest harvesting.
To meet the basic needs of its employees, the company provides housing, free food three times a day, and medical care by a nurse. A contracted hospital provides further medical care to the employees, with 65% of the cost of any medicine prescribed by a physician being covered by the company. Workers who come in contact with hazardous materials are given free medical examinations twice a year. A shuttle bus between Itacoatiara and PWA provides free transportation for workers who do not live at the PWA site.
The members of the inventory crew, the felling crews, and the extraction crews receive special training designed to provide them with the skills required for their jobs and to ensure that they maintain those skills over time.
Normal working time for forest workers is 10 h/day, 6 days/week during the eight-month dry season. The remaining 4 months, from January 15 to May 15, are covered by the forest worker's accumulated extra hours and their holidays.
The forestry sector of PWA has 90 employees, the processing sector 195 workers, and 25 persons are employed in the company's administration. Monthly wages are higher than the legal minimum wage, with the individual amount depending upon the specific job. Table 6 gives an overview of the wages paid by PWA to the employees in the forest sector and Table 7 shows the share of wages paid to employees in each of the three sectors. The total wage bill at PWA is US$167,000/month. As is customary in Brazil, workers are paid a 13th monthly salary each December, so the annual expenditure for wages at PWA is US$2,110,000.
Table 6. Wages of PWA employees.
|Job description||Wage, US$/month|
Table 7. Share of wages paid to employees in the different sectors of the PWA project.