Members of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers march in Johannesburg. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Members of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers march in Johannesburg. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Perhaps new thinking is necessary about the vexed problem of bloated employment by all the various organs of state. It is acknowledged by all rational people that the ANC can no longer continue to buy votes at taxpayers' expense with state employment. The state's salary bill  growth must be first contained and then reduced.

However, it must also be acknowledged that for the vast majority of our people holding a job with an assured wage or salary is of prime importance. The unions do have a point, to a limited extent. Instead of fixating on the number of people employed, why not consider the total of the remuneration available and reducing the amount paid to each individual? With a reduced amount available the choice offered to employees, negotiated through their unions, should be simple — either accept a reduced number of employees at current levels of pay or reduce the level of pay, in a negotiated manner, and retain the absolute level of employee numbers.

On the latter basis, state employment will over time become less attractive. More people will transfer to the productive private sector. There will be pressure on the state and the unions to make, in particular, the SME sector of the economy a more attractive place to operate a business or work in (and more tax-productive).

The huge burden of regulation and limitation placed on SMEs should be substantially reduced so employers can hire and fire, within limits, and meet lower minimum wage and benefit requirements. Why should a garage start-up or small eatery be expected to pay the same wages and benefits as a major industrial corporation?

Robert Stone
Linden

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