Columns 26.2.2014 07:00 am

Why Zuma should look to the East

Cliff Buchler.

Cliff Buchler.

Believe it or not, the world’s most populous country is short of workers.

The latest figures show jobs in China far exceed the number of employable people. Evidently its policy of encouraging husbands to plant less seeds through tax incentives has caused a serious depletion in the work force, especially in the manufacturing sector.

China’s exports, at one time its mainstay, have taken a knock, with factories either closing or functioning with skeleton staff.

Demand outweighs supply, so workers have a strong bargaining chip, insisting on and getting higher wages, further adding to China’s economic woes.

This phenomenon elicits a range of responses.

On moral grounds, it is hoped there will be less of the notorious sweat shops. And as a direct consequence one should expect a dip in the dumping of cheap, sub-standard products on world markets. SA has been duped for ages.

These perceptions aside, China still produces good stuff that its trading partners cannot do without. So it is to be hoped that it finds a solution sooner than later. Mulling over this worrying report at 3am I come up with the goodies.

My best ideas are born in the early hours when my Heidi and the hadedas are snoozing.

Fact one: South Africa is part of BRICS, a working relationship between Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Fact two: President Zuma kisses Chinese feet.

Fact three: South Africa has a major unemployment problem.

Fact four: Our president has made outlandish promises about finding sustainable jobs for millions of the jobless in a relatively short time.

From this, a practical blueprint emerges; China sends a team of employment agents, as opposed to the usual inflated trade delegations, to recruit workers on contract to Chinese factories.

The deal includes comprehensive training programmes, from apprenticeship level, and attractive wage incentives.

Thus, Chinese plants are filled, SA’s unemployment figures are substantially reduced, and fully trained workers return to fill key SA factory positions.

Zuma’s headache gone. And a bonus: no union strikes.

Plus good entertainment value: Vavi toyi-toying on his own.

Everybody wins.

 

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