Chair Trevor Manuel is “very proud” that Old Mutual ( has raised the minimum it pays employees to R15,000 a month, “so taking a decisive step towards narrowing the wage gap”. One presumes that this minimum does not apply to the cleaners, security guards and canteen staff contracted to supply such services. Fortunately — because if so extended, it would mean many fewer of them would be employed in these humble categories.

I would be much more inclined to share the pride in firms paying more if it was accompanied by a growing payroll. It is an outcome difficult to realise when improved rewards must be accompanied by improved performance — if the firm is to survive — through productivity augmented by computers, robots, artificial intelligence (AI) and on-the-job training. The true employment heroes are the firms that can grow s...

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