I have always simply followed the logical way of thinking about wage negotiations, namely:
- The employees say they require X;
- The employers say they can only afford Y; and
- The two meet somewhere in the middle, let's call it Z.
Secondly, I consider myself a conservative capitalist with social responsibility leanings. Oxymoron? Through these capitalist spectacles, I have long held the view that people can only be paid what their productivity justifies. Therefore, in South Africa, with low productivity (when benchmarked against other nations), we "deserve" to suffer from correspondingly low wages. However, this morning on my drive to work, listening to the radio, I was struck by an epiphany! Maybe it is not that our wages are too high for our productivity/skills/education but that our productivity/skills/education is too low for our wages. I know that most people are saying this is merely a play on words (or semantics) but I now think that a shift in mind-set is required.
If we approach the problem with a view to raising productivity/skills/education to a level that matches the salary rather than merely paying an amount that we believe matches the productivity/skills/education of the employees, we can completely disregard Y and Z in the above scenario and aim for X (or above). However, it would be incumbent upon government, business and the trade unions to fundamentally focus upon productivity/skills/education.
Utopia? Maybe. The problem is that this is a medium to long term solution and in a world where everyone wants a quick-fix.
Commercial and Property Attorney