I think I might have a solution for the ongoing farm worker strikes.
These workers currently earn R70 a day and want that pay to more than double, to R150 a day. This is a bit steep, especially in current economic conditions and most farmers are not nearly able to pay these wages to all their workers. So here is my idea: Adhere to the demands of your workers, but on the following terms.
Start by pairing up your workers two-two. Now tell them that you will double their wages but, seeing as there is only a limited amount of money available, you’ll have to half your staff. This means that from each pair of two workers, you are only going to keep one. They can decide for themselves who are staying and who will be out of work.
Now you have two groups of people. One group is extremely unhappy about the outcome while the other group is absolutely delighted with their increase. Handle the unhappy group first. Tell them that, although they are now out of work, they did succeed in accomplishing the ‘greater good’ by managing to get an increase for their friends. Also, point out that in a country with an unemployment rate at around 30%, they are probably going to waste their time looking for a job, but maybe (just maybe) Mr. Vavi can help them.
Now for the happy group. It is important that they understand that their pay just doubled. Unfortunately the amount of worked stayed the same and as the number of workers halved, they will now need to do twice as much work. I doubt that they will complain be seeing that they are earning double from what they earned before.
I seriously doubt whether my plan will work, but if it does, nobody will ever ‘demand’ a raise again!
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