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Working Lives Mexico: Binman

Israel Baeza starts his days early. He leaves the house by 5am in order to make the long bus journey from his poorer neighbourhood on the outskirts of Mexico City to the wealthier part of town where he starts his round.

He is 32 years old, a father of two young children, and has already been working on the rubbish trucks for fourteen years. The team is made up of a driver - the only person on a fixed wage - and four or five 'voluntarios' or volunteers. The members of the team are paid just on what they can recycle from the rubbish.

"We take home about 60 or 70 pesos a man," he says. That translates to about $5 (£3.20) a day, much lower than the national average of around $24 (£15.30) a day.

They must trawl through the rubbish for the useful cardboard, tin, glass and plastic bottles which make up the basis of their income. "It's not much," concedes Mr Baeza, "but it puts food on the table."

A few tips along the way might bump up the wage a little.

Despite the long hours and the low pay, Mr Baeza enjoys his work, and is proud of it. He knows that without its army of rubbish collectors, Mexico City would quickly come to realise its value.

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