The Running Commentary

Pride and prosperity go hand in hand……..

As the call for creating labour legislation that is friendly towards job creation grows, my hope is that it will be a call that is headed by the majority of South Africans. This may be a slightly weird opening line, but truly my concern is that the union mentality that prevails is certain segments of the economy will stall the ability of government to create much needed jobs.

I was privileged to visit India to attend a trade show that pertained to our industry. During one of the days we were invited to a demonstration on a piece of equipment which folded sheets of paper. The demonstrator boasted about how fast the machine operated and how productivity could be improved. Most importantly the machine required just one operator. This meant that we could save on employment costs.  This was his big line.

The representative then asked the audience who would be interested. Most of the hands shot up. One loan voice commented “how much does it cost?”, “$65 000.00” came the reply. The guy who raised the question said, “why would I spend that when I have 2 billion hands out there willing to work” he promptly left the demonstration, he was Indian. This statement struck me!

Now I know this may offend, but hey!

I began to think about what he said. I also began to look around me. Now those of you who have been to India and heard the advertisement saying “Incredible India” will know that it is a phenomenal place. What I began to notice though, was the pride that even the lowliest person who was employed had. This may be a cultural thing, but they seemed to revel in their employment. I was left wondering if this shouldn’t be the main focus for government…….creating pride.

I know I have said this before, but I am convinced that being employed fills someone with pride, despite them sometimes being resentful of their working conditions. You only need to see the body language of someone who is not employed to know that they are not walking around proud. Granted there may be a few exceptions.

I would love to see those not employed telling government that they are prepared to work, maybe for something that is below the minimum wage for a specific sector. Sure there is the risk of exploitation but rather create legislation dealing with exploitation as opposed to creating barriers to even entering the work place. There is a difference and I am sure that clever law makers could strike a balance.

I do not buy the argument that we will create a poorer state for adopting policies that are employment friendly. If it is truly your intention to grow economic activity in this country then you need to seriously scrutinise how the current legislative environment hampers this.  The positive spin-offs extend to the greater economy as well, as more employed people create less of a burden on the state.

My question to the unions and indeed the government, how can you propose and support legislation that keeps so many from even beginning a career?

ANCDAEconomyJacob ZumaJobspoliticsPrideSouth Africasuccess

Mike • August 22, 2011

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