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Thread: Dust in my eyes - Now I can see

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Dust in my eyes - Now I can see

    It's human nature to want to pay as little as possible and earn as much as we can, so I'm really not any different to the next guy. I want the best quality toys for the kids but want to pay Hong Kong prices, and the same goes for just about anything else.

    Having just moved to the coast some 6 months ago, we have a regular flow of contractors doing all sorts of small jobs around the property - builders, tiling, etc, etc. As usual, we shop around for the best quality / price ratio that we want - or as I have learned down here - shop with the guy who actually bother to pitch to inspect the requirements and supply a quote. But that's a completely different story all together.

    My observation for this post is to do with labourers wages.

    What do you consider a fair wage for a general labourer ?

    The going rate in this area seems to be around R100 per day. If the worker has any level of skills applicable to the work being done, then up to about R130 per day ( for the sake of perspective, that's about what we earn in 45 minutes ) .

    Well, I recently started doing some small building projects around the house - short retaining wall, small foundations, brick cupboard for the braai stuff, add an under paving drain pipe outside, etc, etc.

    Have you ever tried to do this ? The retaining wall foundations took 2 barrow loads of concrete and another 6 loads for the next small project.

    Excuse the french, but this shit's darn heavy !!!!

    My whole body ached for a few days, but I was proud I got the first stage completed.

    Then came the "Murphy's Law" call to say family were going to "pop in" in 3 days time. 3 days !!!! I need about 3 months to complete what I started at this rate.

    Time to call in the cavalry - got hold of the labourer from one of the contractors we had used ( with the contractors blessing ) and this guy did, what took me 3 days, in 1 day flat !! And for R130 for the day.

    Now I have to tell you, that only after you've actually physically mixed 8 barrow loads of concrete, do you suddenly have a lot more respect for the labourers.

    Yes, money's tight all round, but for the amount of effort and perseverence he gave, I think that I can do a lot better than R130 for the day - he can expect a sizable bonus when we complete the last of the projects over the next few days.

    Why am I telling you this -- hopefully, if you're an employer of any kind, you'll take a look around your place and suddenly recognise the amount of effort that some poorly paid "under the radar" employee is making just to put food on the table for some of the family - ( I think on the wages they earn, they probably have to take turns for a decent meal ).

    If you don't think you need to look around, I suggest you start with mixing 2 barrow loads of cement - a good eye opener.

    Yes, I am a capitalist, but I am also human ( recently slightly softened, even if it took a few aching back muscles, sore fingers, grit between the toes and the cheeks, and dust in the eyes ).
    Watching the ships passing by.

  2. Thank given for this post:

    Dave A (03-Sep-09), Debbiedle (07-Sep-09), Morticia (07-Sep-09)

  3. #2
    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    When I was working at one of the local mines I use to make big rocks into smaller rocks. This was done manually and involved a massif dead heavy hammer. Now we did this for 12 hours every day because the crusher was old and crippled by years of abuse. We got about R2000 flat every month that's about R500 for 7 days worth of work. Truth is it is really hard work! However you do get use to it after a month or two but still even today “8 years on” I still feel my back “clicking” into place as I lay down.

    Still the job had no real stress! When I started working as an IT-Tec I have gotten OLD! Really the stress is unbearable! You are always in hot-water and pressed for time and it just sucks!

    When I get home I just fall down... crash and burn... It is that bad. Physically you can feel the stress in every part of your body! The point I am trying to make is; don’t think for a moment an office worker or IT dude or someone else trapped in a office have it easy!

    Yes physical labour is really hard-work. However, working under stress can sometimes be worse... Think about it... Stress is responsible for a lot of deaths and the number is climbing.

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tec0 View Post
    Yes physical labour is really hard-work. However, working under stress can sometimes be worse... Think about it... Stress is responsible for a lot of deaths and the number is climbing.
    Hi Tec0

    I agree and have first hand experience of the IT and stress situations - more than 12 years worth of sweat, tears, 16 hour days, 7 days a week, stressed, demotivated, un-rewarded, basic 'survival' pay, etc. I really could write a book about it.

    I don't, for 1 minute, say that white collar work isn't hard.

    But the point of my post was to draw attention to the really REALLY poorly paid worker who, for reasons probably out of his control, was unable to get a better education which would have resulted in better chances of higher paying work.

    So my question to create thought : is the work that your lowest paid labourer does really deserving of what you pay him / her ? Just a thought.
    Watching the ships passing by.

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    Diamond Member wynn's Avatar
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    Many years ago, while on leave, I built a 1.8x60m clinker brick wall all by myself (with the help of one labourer )
    First I had to hire three guys for three days to remove the old hedge that had died and dig the foundations then mix the concrete, wheelbarrow it and tip it at the correct point, I kept the levels with a rake.

    Then I started laying bricks, when I woke up the next day I thought my back had broken and my fingers were worn to the bone.

    I pushed on and after laying the first few bricks my hands started cramping and I couldn't bend down to lay the bricks (The first few courses are below the ground level and cramped for foot space) However after a few days of torture I started getting fit for the job and by the time the courses were chest high I was laying bricks like an old 'Brickie'

    Once we started using scaffold to lay the top courses I was so fit for the job it meant nothing but time.

    The point I want to make is that had I hired a brickie, for the same sort of money the job that took me three weeks, including weekends, would have been finished in 5 days.
    So the labourer who mixed the 'Dagha' and brought the bricks got a good three weeks work that he wouldn't have had if I paid all the cash to the brickie.

    Me? next time I'll hire the brickie and spend my holiday at the beach
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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wynn View Post
    Then I started laying bricks, when I woke up the next day I thought my back had broken and my fingers were worn to the bone.


    Quote Originally Posted by wynn View Post
    So the labourer who mixed the 'Dagha' and brought the bricks got a good three weeks work that he wouldn't have had if I paid all the cash to the brickie.
    Well, at today's rates, you could have had that whole lot done in 5 days for R650, while you sat back in the shade sipping lemonade !!!

    I think that after your experience, you understand my point quite clearly.

    ps ... if anyone else wants some first hand experience to learn, deep in your heart, what I'm talking about, I do still have some more projects to do.

    We'll call it the "Grass Roots Workshop" and for your attendance fee of R500 ( per day ) we'll throw in some sweet ice cold water and a certificate of completion.
    Watching the ships passing by.

  7. Thanks given for this post:

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    Diamond Member tec0's Avatar
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    Like you said the work that these poor people do is really hard and back breaking “literally” YES I am with you on that. But let us turn our attention to reason why that is. First of let us look at your education options. Well if you are a 30 year old or even a 25 year old with no funding you will not get educated. So our government failed to provide studies and I stand to be corrected but government also eliminated part-time studies at local colleges so you are dead in the water. Now ask yourself this important question.

    Who suffers? I answer: Everyone. Fact is the hard labourers have no choice and the system seems to like it that way. See right now the system is making sure that there is enough people that will be willing to do ANYTHING for very little money, this ensures that labour is obtainable at low cost thus saving money in the end. And yes it is a money game it always have been a money game that is why our colleges are in the process of being dismantled.

    Suicides are on the increase then the other little problem is crime. Make no mistake lack of education will force any person to do crime because there IS NO OTHER OPTION. Drug abuse and other factors start to play a role in this numbing scenario.

    Drugs are out of control simply because it gives those who seek it an escape and it brings in massive amounts of money. Then there is the “sex-trade” that is also being spawned from this horrible cesspool that we call poverty. Fact is South Africa is becoming a country filled with victims.

    A few others did the math and it was concluded that if Education does not become available for 25 to 35 year olds without matriculation you will see nothing short of a CITY full of beggars and criminals come 2020 “give or take 2 years” again we stand to be corrected on this. In the end you will have a theoretical million people running around killing others as an occupation! How scary is that!

    So do the math yourself call up the colleges and ask them yourself you will be shocked... Right now I have to say we are losing the war against poverty.

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    Well I could be flippant and say at least they don't have to spend R500 per month on gym contracts, but I really feel for these guys.

    Just recently I read a post from a horsewoman who had a lunge arena built in a day from material on their own farm, that their groom had creatively put together to give her and her loved animal hours of FREE and SAFE fun. He did this without her asking and because she had mentioned that the horse was bolshy and needed more exercise, but that she could not at that point afford the quote the builders had given. (thousands)

    She paid him R50-00 bonus for the day. I was disgusted. She spent more than this at the coffee shop having tea and cake and bragging to her friends about the lunge arena. Manual labour is back breaking work and with or without education, for the end result it produces (adds thousands in value to your property?) the human beings who do it, deserve more.

    Apologies if this comes across as harsh but gets up my nose exactly the same way as the corporates and retailers do when they rip us off!! *gets off soap box now and skulks away*
    Regards

    Debbie
    debbie@stafftraining.co.za

    From reception to management training, assertiveness, accountability or interviewing skills, we have a wide range of training workshops available for you!
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