US shows SA how “actual work” beats “decent work” every time

Had an interesting chat yesterday with an old pal who runs a business in the US. Apart from the sheer scale of opportunities there, he says the major difference between doing business in South Africa and his new home is flexibility.

What he means by this is how US labour laws give companies the ability to adjust rapidly to changes in economic conditions. This summer, he said, orders have been slower than budgeted. So this week the business laid off its weakest half a dozen staff. Sent on their way with two weeks’ wages (not legally required) to cushion the blow.

Sounds harsh, but my pal says once conditions improve he won’t hesitate to start hiring again. Being able to fire, he says, eliminates the risk of being forced to carry deadwood. And the system opens a path into employment for job-seekers. Those fired, depart with acquired skills that can be used elsewhere – or to start their own businesses.

The US’s unemployment rate is 3.6% – South Africa’s is 26%. And even though its economy is 40 times the size, America’s GDP growth regularly surpasses SA’s, since 2012 the rate having exceeded the local one in all but one year. Data doesn’t lie. For those in SA’s long unemployment queues, “actual work” beats the nebulous concept of “decent work” every time.

*On Rational Radio tonight at 5pm РPaul O’Sullivan, Magda Wierzycka, Dave Woollam, David Shapiro and Gideon Galloway. Bookmark the link: http://listen.samcloud.com/w/101447/Biznews-Radio.