Comparing our wages to other African and European countries Hlokoza Motau and Jenny Grice
The survey, The Purchasing Power of Working Time 2004, an international comparison, published by the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) is just out.
It shows up how much time metalworkers in different countries must work to buy essential items like food, clothes, furniture.
It highlights just how important it is to have strong trade unions like Numsa. When compared with the rest of Africa , South African metalworkers’ wages tower above them. Don’t end up working in Uganda – there you will have to labour for 3 hours before you can buy yourself a loaf of bread.
These low wages in turn lead to a lack of consumption of goods produced in the factories and result in disease, poverty and hopelessness.
The challenge facing African trade unions is how do we organise ourselves and increase the wage levels.
The low level of wages also affects the world economy as other countries cannot sell their products and that ends up closing their factories.
How much time do you have to work to buy ….
A woman’s dress
A middle-sized car
6 757 hours
6 422 hours
2 985 hours
4 234 hours
3 368 hours
1 017,5 hours
3 622 hours
1 017,5 hours
The survey goes further and compares metalworkers’ hourly earnings across countries taking into account the different cost of living in each of those countries. From this they calculate a figure that shows the relative hourly wage of a worker in euros in each of the different countries. Although South Africa soars above its continental neighbours, it is still way below its counterparts in Europe, Great Britain and the US .
But remember, this survey looks at engineering workers’ wages covered by the Seifsa agreement. In Botshabelo, ThabaNchu, Qwa Qwa you will find petrol attendants and engineering workers earning wages equivalent to those earned in Uganda !
Get a copy of some of the pages from your nearest local office or download the book from www.imfmetal.org