I’ve been speaking to a guy this morning who complained of being put on “short-time”. The factory where he is employed only has enough work to allow employees to work two days a week — meaning they only get two days’ pay per week.
I used to work in a factory. And there, the marketing manager had the responsibility to ensure new contracts for the company. We also went through this sad ordeal once. But, whereas the workers were put on short-time with corresponding short-pay, the marketing manager continued to get his huge salary — even after the company had to retrench scores of people and lay off others (without benefits).
I know that some of these situations — even factories closing — can be blamed on economic difficulties. This is not only restricted to South Africa, as we just saw with the global economic meltdown last week. This I fully understand. But for now, I want to concentrate on instances where management is responsible for the lack of work.
My question is: Why do ordinary workers have to suffer for this while managers continue receiving huge salaries? Why don’t we ever see companies laying off managers and office staff? It’s always only workers (supposed to be the backbone of the manufacturing sector) who suffer the consequences of someone’s (normally higher up) refusal to do his or her job diligently.
And look at when a company closes its doors. The managers walk away with huge severance packages, while the workers are informed by liquidators that there isn’t enough money for them to be paid out fully — if at all.
While we are reading in the media that the new ANC leadership thinks of major constitutional changes, maybe this should become a focus point. Maybe it is time to amend the Labour Relations Act and all other relevant legislation — not only to favour the needs for a growing economy, but also to ensure that the rights of workers are protected.
And, more importantly for me, to ensure that where companies are sitting without work for its regular staff, that they are forced to investigate such instances and that the real culprit is punished.