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Saturday, 26 November 2016 09:22

Open Letter: Minimum Wage - A Fiasco

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We are bewildered!

The current challenge to find work is escalating. Unemployment rates are up. The number of unemployed persons increased by 239 000, between July and September this year (Stats SA). And now, this motion - a minimum wage of R3500! Once promised, free education has eluded us, so we remain uneducated and not employable enough to put food on the table. Once upon a time we could work ourselves up, become trained and skilled on the job. But who will employ us if we have no degree, diploma or skill?

 

If a minimum wage exists, why not also a maximum one? We often see officials speeding past with blue lights flashing. We know that millions of rands, our millions, reach their families and friends. If they would really care for the people, they would curb their exorbitant salaries, quell the corruption and give us our promised free education? 

 

For now, an increased minimum wage sounds fine, but the result is job cuts. In a few months many families will not have food on their tables. 

 

Pensioners receive pittance to feed orphaned children. Now our gogos must use their pension money to pay a domestic helper R3 500 a month.  63% of orphans in South Africa are orphaned due to AIDS. According to UNICEF, “the AIDS epidemic in South Africa is devastating families and communities. The country has the world’s largest number of HIV-infected people. There are an estimated 3.7 million orphans in South Africa - close to half of them have lost their parents to AIDS-related diseases and there are many more children living with sick and bedridden caregivers. About 150,000 children in South Africa are believed to be living in child-headed households”.  How are our peers that need to get food on the table, going to sustain themselves, and their siblings?

 

Your flashing blue lights hide the glaring reality of poverty. Your gadgets silence the cries of the hungry.  

 

Give us food by opening the door to jobs. We will work hard, develop skills, and become managers in the future. But now, you have again shut the door of opportunity. Only the highly educated will get a job that pays R3 500. There are no options left. You are forcing us into prostitution and a life of crime. We wanted to be become responsible citizens, but you have taken bread from our hands, and left us alone to fend for ourselves. When we close our eyes at night, hunger’s fingers tighten around our bellies while you flit from place to place, blue lights flashing, gorging yourselves.

 

Modern day Marie Antoinettes, don’t you hear the children cry?

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