Driving to a meeting this morning I was listening to Cape Talk and the subject being discussed was wages and salaries and job creation. Someone said that South Africa’s problem is that wages are too high for us to be competitive internationally. Well that may be but if I look at the average salary/wage increase for office workers over the past 5 years (around 2 to 6%) compared to the electricity, fuel and food price increases it suggests to me that they are poorer in real terms than five years ago.
Office workers have, as far as I know, no union, unless they are in the government sector. Retrenching office workers is much easier than factory workers especially in the case of mergers and acquisitions. Lots of office workers put in many hours of unpaid overtime but struggle to get a few hours off for a doctor’s appointment. Access control to buildings effectively means they clock in and out like factory workers but management have no problem with calling meetings over lunch hour and expecting everyone concerned to attend.
In my view officer workers are the least protected and most exploited of all workers in this country. It’s time they got themselves a union and a voice.