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Crude ways to curb recession

The harsh economic times has made most employers design ways and means of spending less and maximizing productivity. The most common one is retrenchment which, according to an online dictionary, is something akin to downsizing. In South Africa which is Africa's economic powerhouse for instance, about 310 000 workers have faced retrenchment so far mostly due to harsh economic conditions.

The sad thing is that employers do not give any send off package for these people who lose their livelihoods in similar way. “My boss verbally terminated my contract without any prior notification or any benefits related to that as per the labour laws,” mourned one aggrieved victim, a family bread winner whose contract was terminated recently. In addition he says, he was not paid his two months dues which his employer said will pay him once things stabilize. Struck with this tragedy, he does not know where to begin from to earn a living and support his family.

Employers are also cutting down the number of employed staff and seeking the services of unpaid interns to do the same job. But many might look at this as compromising the quality and credibility of production. At a general sense, being on internship or attachment means learning from an experienced person to do the same job. According to Oxford dictionary, it is a learning process. Hence using interns may be a saving measure but on the other hand, might affect the quality of production. Many interns who have passed through similar situations have complained of bosses who do not give them correct job description or terms of contract. “When I got a chance to work with this organization, my boss did not give me clear terms of reference concerning what I should do. Right now, my boss expects me to do everything from sales to desk work to everything, which jeopardizes career development,” said Nancy, an intern at a local NGO. She says her boss expects too much from her, always insisting on multi-tasking in the office as a virtue.

Yet other employers are turning all employees in to sales persons. The common policy in such organizations is ‘bring in cheques, get paid.’ The problem with this is that job descriptions and terms of reference are overhauled. “The outcome is that all employees are paid ‘on commission’, whether an office manager, finance officer or a messenger” Laments Nancy. Such a strategy is dangerous especially for those employees who do not have direct products to sell like researchers.

Hence as everyone else struggle with an ailing economy, employers should empathize with their employees, be fair and take actions that are not too injurious to their employees. They should also take in to account the labour laws that protect the rights of employees. They ought to discuss retrenchment with workers.


Khushbu's picture

Great article

Hi Joannes...

It is a wonderful describe the current economic crisis in such a layman language. I am a student of economics and the global financial crisis is a subject of great interest to me.

In my country, luckily, employees are not being laid off because of the crisis, which i think is great in the midst of the current situation. But as far as interns are concerned, they are hired to substitute for paid workers, which is discriminatory. Interns are given nothing, and they are expected to do a lot of things. This happens especially in banks. There is a bank in Nepal, which is popular for hiring interns to do the marketing job. They are given menial pay, and expected to bring in profitable customers within a stipulated time. This, according to me is unfair, and unethical. People are slowly getting aware, and interns have started looking beyond just banks.

I hope the lay-off thing is resolved soon, and that people get to earn a living the way they did.

Thank you


Khushbu Agrawal

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