Wages in SA grow, but still unequal

2012-12-11 16:30

Cape Town - Real average wages increased by nearly 10% in South Africa, but wage growth remains unequally distributed, according to the latest global wage report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The 2012/13 ILO Global Wage Report presents data on trends in wages and compares them with trends in labour productivity.

Patrick Belser, senior economist and lead author of the report, said that declining shares of income for workers of each country surveyed has affected perceptions of what is fair, particularly given the huge earnings of some company executives.

The report showed that in Africa, the real average wage growth has remained far below pre-crisis levels globally, while it went into the red in developed economies.

The personal distribution of wages has also become more unequal, with a growing gap between the top
10% and the bottom 10% of wage earners.

While wages grew significantly in emerging economies, differences in wage levels remain considerable, the report said.

"In the Philippines, a worker in the manufacturing sector took home around US$1.40 for each hour worked. In Brazil, the hourly direct pay in the sector was $5.40, in Greece it was $13.00, in the United States $23.30 and
in Denmark $34.80."

The report also noted that data on wages in Africa was sparse with only a few countries, such as Botswana, Egypt, Lesotho, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda, participating in wage surveys in order to measure the evolution of earnings.

According to the report, in Madagascar more than 80% of waged and salaried workers were poor, with more than half living in extreme poverty. In Mozambique and Burundi over 60% of employees were living in poverty, while in the Republic of the Congo over 50% of employees were poor. The latest figures quoted for these countries were for 2005.

The ILO called for wages to grow in line with productivity and urged more countries to adopt minimum wage policies and collective bargaining to protect vulnerable employees.

It also was recommended that to raise average labour productivity, education should be prioritised combined with policies for job creation.  

The focus on education was also highlighted in by African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka on his visit in November to the ILO headquarters in Geneva. He said African youth's access to quality education are key to creating sustainable jobs on the continent.

He added that job creation and sustainable employment was "the biggest challenge" facing African countries.  

South Africa has recently been hit with a wave of wage strikes in the mining, transport and the agricultural sectors.

Earlier this month, that South Africa government vowed to increase the visibility of its inspection and enforcement services to ensure that employers comply with all labour laws.

The decision followed the 2011 results of blitz inspections done nationally that showed that of the 1 174 workplaces visited, more than 60% were not complying with labour laws.

  • paul.illingsworth.9 - 2012-12-11 17:26

    Government should visit state institutions to see if labour laws as well as health and saftey legislation is being complied with, most are not!

  • george.larkins.14 - 2012-12-11 17:26

    Yes,So is education,productivity,loyalty,commitment,BEE and AA.

  • zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-11 17:28

    Equality is all we ask at the end of the day...........

      stuartgrantferguson - 2012-12-11 18:00

      Equality is not what we need, it removes the incentive to upskill and specialise. Why bother becoming a doctor when you can take a job as a cleaner and earn the same? What we need are equitable wages. Fair pay in return for labour. Though something needs to be done about top executives (and government) signing themselves alarming increases way above inflation and the value of what they provide.

      rupesh.hari.7 - 2012-12-12 00:54

      equality to opportunities?

      surfing.sam.9 - 2012-12-12 07:40

      Rupeshhari, I agree, BEE and AA must be scrapped.

      EricksonTL - 2012-12-12 08:20

      Equality means the opportunity to earn what you are worth in a capitalist society. That, we have (with the exception of racist BEE and AA policies.) What more do you want?

      jesibelle.krueger - 2012-12-12 09:28

      What equality are you talking about..? Because I agree - it is time that SA's workers start being paid according to global "EQUALITY" - ie what they are really worth. Eg A Brazilian factory worker gets an hourly direct pay of $5.40 (quoting the relevant report) < R50 per day. The typical Brazilian factory worker is around FIVE TIMES more productive than a SAcan worker. Kindly not the following. a. A factory worker is far more skilled than a farm worker and everywhere in the world will get a higher wage than farm workers. Yet SA's farm workers are demanding, wait for it.., THREE TIMES more than a Brazilian factory worker. Iow effectively they want a wages per productive unit that is around FIFTEEN TIMES greater.  SA's mine drillers want R16k/month (or something - it changes every time they smoke another joint). Lets say they will then take home R12k/month, on a 40 hour week, they will get.., wait for it.., $70/day..!!! Ie almost double of a worker in Denmark. Note a Danish factory worker is likely 100 TIMES more productive. (moderated - ed)

  • nghamula.mdunwazi - 2012-12-11 17:32

    I think nathi mthetwa's department(saps) is a culprit no1,they don't care about public service atc personnel at SAPS,how on earth a person with matric,diploma or degree earn like a cleaners level3?

  • george.larkins.14 - 2012-12-11 17:41

    Do not let the Company executives salaries be a problem.Their companies are creating jobs and moving forward.The majority of Goverment- and Municipality employees are being OVER paid.They DO NOT create jobs and neither are they moving forward.The only thing they move forward,is CORRUPTION!!!!!!!!

  • EricksonTL - 2012-12-12 08:19

    Wages SHOULD be unequal! Do you want rocket scientists and toilet cleaners to earn the same thing? The reason for this disparity is no longer race. It's the shockingly bad education system, which is churning out millions of people whose only real possible employment opportunity is digging holes or similar manual labour. The result is a HUGE pool of desperate job seekers in the lower echelons, and as capitalist thought dictates, those workers are snapped up by companies run by the Ramaposas and the Sexwales of the world to keep costs down. It's SO simple, and yet most people in SA will never get it, because of the self perpetuating cycle of fail that is the failure of ANC education. Yeesh.

      EricksonTL - 2012-12-12 08:23

      If the desire IS one wage for everyone, then what's the incentive to become a rocket scientist? Might as well clean toilets and save yourself the stress!

  • bernard.haasbroek - 2012-12-12 12:21

    Call my views "ideological", but this is nonsense. Basic monetarian economics teaches us that you won't increase wages and decrease wage disparities by instituting or increasing minimum wages. As a matter of fact, all that would do is to increase the costs of labour and hence also production costs. This in turn would make the economies in question less competitive. Rather abolish minimum wages. Let people decide for themselves how much their time and effort is worth. The effect of the resulting "cheap" labour would be a decrease in unemployment. Lower unemployment means lower supply of labour, which can then be viewed as a scarce resource. With less supply, the cost of labour would naturally increase by the laws of supply and demand and you in effect solve two probelms (unemployment and low wages) with one stone. You might try to fool yourself into thinking that strict labour policies protect the people, but actually they only stifle economic growth.

      EricksonTL - 2012-12-12 18:15

      Indeed. In Alberta, where I live now, the minimum wage for labourers (think McDonalds till operators or even toilet cleaners) is nearly $10 per hour. Welders make between $30 and $70 per hour - depending where they live and work in the province. Why? Because labour is a scarce commodity, and because even the toilet cleaners can read, write and reason. There's a 3% unemployment rate (but even that is often because people can't or don't want to work), and this is the first time IN MY LIFE where I've driven down roads to see 'help wanted' signs everywhere. You can literally get a job here in a day if you want to. They also don't have restrictive labour laws though. Employers can hire and fire as they need to, and while workers rights are important, they're not so important as to stifle growth. Our government is, however, unfortunately a bunch of vote buying idiots, so as much as we all know that this is the way forward, they'll keep mouthing off to their hordes of semi literate followers about workers rights yada yada, until they destroy the economy. Then they'll blame apartheid and steal a little more. Joy.

  • mstrato1 - 2012-12-12 18:13

    BEE and AA makes sense as an introduction into the industry, to allow the previously disadvantaged entry. This status must be limited and seize to apply when these entities/persons have the necessary experience (ie. 3-5years), to level the playing field. if they fail, it will be due to their own inability to develop themselves. Wages cannot be completely equal, there will be incentive to better ourselves!

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