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CommonSense
 
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Minimum wage

07 February 2013, 12:00

What's in a  minumum wage?

Not very much it would seem...

I realise that a "business", make that "any business", is created for one reason, and one reason ONLY. And that is to sell a service or a product at a profit, otherwise it would not be called a business now would it...

I too am a business man, and yes I work for my self, BUT I do not work by my self. There is an obligation upon me that is self initiated (or should that be self inflicted...) to be ethical.

This means I do not screw my suppliers, I pay on delivery without fail. I also do not screw my customers, I give them what they pay for. If my customer's are unhappy, then I am unhappy...because they put the food on my plate, and allow me to provide my family with a roof over our heads.

At the same time I DO NOT screw my staff - I never have and never will, as without them I would most likely not be in business now would I? As much as what I would like to think I am an island, no man ever really is...

I encouraged and motivated my staff during my stint in the SAP to be the best they could be. I encouraged and motivated my staff in the world of Blue Chip Corporate to be the best they could be. I never "screwed" a staff member in the above scenarios. I treated all my staff fairly and equally, because this was, and still is the right thing to do.

Being self employed today and actively involved in my businesses since 2004, I have made significant sacrifices in terms of a constant and "safe" income. But something such as the simple benefits of being able to save two hours travel time a day helps. You see this time can now be "mostly" constructively used to shape my future as I see fit and I avoid a dull daily routine.

Back to the point though, I have tried to always ensure that my staff in corporate were paid above average, yet I demanded above average performance. This above average perfomrance then made it so easy to convince HR that the renumeration is both warranted and deserving.

This is also how I operate my business, I pay well above average, but then I demand above average performance, from every staff member.

You see, the way I see it, by paying someone the bare minimum, you are only garuanteed the bare minimum of effort from said staff member. If however you pay above the bare minimum, you are fully entitled to demand above the bare minimum effort. I do realise that certain industries use a large amount of unskilled labour. I am in the construction field at present, so I too use unskilled manual labour. The difference is though, even in 2007 (6 years ago!), I as an individual was paying unskilled construction casual labourers a minimu wage of R100 per day, that was then, NOT now. And yes I too had "sleg", unproductive workers, but they normally only lasted around two days, and were then politely requested to find alternative easier employment.

The "average" price today of a 2 liter milk is R21.99, 6 eggs is R9.99 and a white bread is R10.99. How can one possibly expect another hard working individual to survive on R69 a day in todays day and age. Just the three above "basics" amount to R42.97 in other words around 62% of the current minimum wage. This means that if earning R69 a day, you now have R26.03 left with which to "spoil" yourself after the purchase of the above three goods. Have we become so "cruel" that we quite willingly expect someone to work, to enable them to buy food alone?

Is this R69 a day really an acceptable minimum wage in 2013?

Is it then any wonder that unions, and then ministers get in a huff and lay down the new wage laws?

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