In one paragraph, Terry Bell dismisses the debate about minimum wages crippling job creation (“Focus on headline numbers obscures strike complexities”, Business Report, September 6). No doubt he’s never had a business, but in a labour-intensive one, the rate of pay is obviously a huge determinant of viability. Is that too hard for him to comprehend?
He, like other senior columnists of Business Report, continues to use your pages to further his own campaign or agenda, repeating the same things. But you should check him for accuracy, at least.
For instance, he says “under current labour legislation, there is provision for waivers of minimum rates of pay determined by collective and centralised bargaining” and “this has been clearly illustrated… within the textile and garment industry”. I challenge Mr Bell to give one example of where a waiver has been applied (by the government or anyone else) on bargaining council wages in the clothing industry. None has!
There was an agreement between the parties for a phase-in of bargaining council rates by non-compliant clothing companies – but that was only reached because the union eventually comprehended the job-destroying consequences of its actions and couldn’t quite face up to them immediately.
Another theme that Bell keeps returning to is that we should all work for some kind of co-operative. Maybe that’s a suggestion which would be worth considering – but not since the government, influenced by the unions, changed the law recently so that worker co-operatives will have to pay bargaining council minimum wage rates.
This amounts to co-owners of businesses being forced to pay certain wage rates to themselves – it must be a first in the world in terms of overregulation!
Government must level labour laws first
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe is factually correct saying that the playing field will not be levelled in terms of the textile industry simply by sending government officials to China for training and to copy what they do (“China to show dti the ropes of mass output”, Business Report, September 11).
The problem also does not lie in trade with China or that China has cheap labour and works around the clock, but in the merciless trade unions and lack of government intervention at the endless strikes.
The government only descends into the strike arena when it becomes violent, and is often too late. Both the unions and the government are aware of the financial impact and domino effect strikes have on the South African economy and the business or industrial sectors, yet strikes are being used ever so loosely and too often as a negotiation tactic for financial gain.
The government must address the core of the problem and not acquiesce on unprotected or loose industrial actions. The government needs to build up the country’s immune system against attacks on its economic health.
When the government creates a manifest for economic empowerment, it must create jobs for all, not just for selected billionaires. When the people reap the fruits of success, the economy can only benefit.
Before South Africa learns the ropes from China, it must come to terms with its own problems. We should level our grounds before trying to level everyone else’s.
Petrol pump jockeys help to fuel our lives
I’d like to offer support for the opinion of Pierre Heistein (Business Report. September 12), in which he argues against the introduction of self-help petrol pumps.
As a consumer, I believe that our petrol jockeys must be among the most cheerful and efficient – and lowest paid – service providers that we come across on an everyday basis. Unlike the (understandably) bored and distracted cashiers and shopkeepers we encounter, the attendants are not only alert, attentive and polite, but – critically – can be relied on to inform us when we need new oil, when a tyre is flatter than the others, or when the vehicle’s water level is alarmingly low.
On top of this, they are willing, when we have a problem, to crawl under the car and poke around in the engine to give a relatively informed opinion on the next course of action. If mechanics were doctors, petrol pump attendants would be the pharmacists of the industry.
And what do they get from us in return? A rand, two rand, five if I’ve been paid. As often as not, they get an angry blast of abuse from some road rager, a scorched hand from an over-heated radiator, or a dose of flu from being out at midnight in a Cape winter storm.
Yet these men and women of the petrol pumps are the invisible hands and smiles that help to fuel our lives.
It’s bleddy obvious that Heistein’s gifted
I am so pleased to see Pierre Heistein’s picture on Business Report’s front page on September 12. He deserves that honour as his razor-sharp analytical mind comes up with the notion that self-service petrol pumps would enrich oil companies and worsen unemployment.
Who would have thought it! UCT must be pleased to have such a smart thinker on its payroll. One must be gifted to make the obvious still more bleddy obvious.