Workers should earn their wages, Mr Vavi

2011-07-16 09:36

Dear Mr Vavi

As a citizen of South Africa, I am just as concerned about the rate of unemployment, poverty and wage inequality as you are.

But within all your demands for employment and living wages as the leader of South Africa’s most powerful labour grouping, where is Cosatu’s commitment to encouraging workers to adopt a work ethic and to upskill themselves?Where is your exhortation to workers for them to improve their education and employability?

As the owner of a small business, I would love to employ more people. I have enough work to extend employment to many people, and to pay them a dignified wage. Why am I not doing so?

Because I simply can’t find people who can do the job.I do not have the luxury to employ people to do nothing, and nowadays even the simplest job requires basic literacy and an understanding of how things work.

Our job environment is getting increasingly sophisticated, and the job seekers I interview don’t even have the most basic understanding of literacy or numeracy.

I know you will tell me that I must employ people and then train them.Believe me, Mr Vavi, I have tried. I have spent thousands of rands on courses for potential employees. I have sat for hours with young people explaining the basics of the job to them, supervising them, checking their work and doing it over when it has not been done properly.

My business would be a lot more profitable if I did not spend so much time training potential employees. But now I have given up. And why, you might ask?

Because no matter how much you train people, you cannot train them to take an interest in the work, to turn up on time or to turn up at all.

Time after time, the young people I have trained and ­employed have dropped out, ­disappeared, lost interest amid a deteriorating work standard, or used the small amount of training they got from me to rush off to a new job – and then turn up at my door six months later ­wanting their job back.

Mr Vavi, I think you have to change your own attitude.

Stop telling people what they are owed, and start telling people what they must earn.People don’t automatically ­deserve a job and a decent wage; they really have to begin to work for it. If you stopped demanding and started offering, this would be the beginning of real change, and – I am certain – the decent jobs would come.

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