The pig­ment pre­mium

Finweek English Edition - - Letters - ADAM GER­BER ANDREW NAICKER

I WAS VERY im­pressed with some­thing that ap­peared in Fin­week, (1 Fe­bru­ary). I agree with the eco­nomic prin­ci­ple of sup­ply and de­mand. That’s the way the sys­tem works. There’s men­tion of hos­til­ity be­tween col­leagues who do the same work but get dif­fer­ent salaries. I feel that the word used is wrong. Dis­sat­is­fac­tion, yes.

This sit­u­a­tion oc­curs es­pe­cially when an in­ex­pe­ri­enced black is ap­pointed from out­side. His white col­league then has to teach him/her how the com­pany’s sys­tems work for a few months and there’s a dif­fer­ence in salary. The per­son in­volved there­fore doesn’t see why he should teach his/her col­league, be­cause of the un­equal re­mu­ner­a­tion.

Let me state clearly that this is not my view, but it’s the gen­eral feel­ing of peo­ple who I come into con­tact with ev­ery day.

I would like ev­ery per­son to re­ceive a good salary for the work he/she does pro­duc­tively and with ded­i­ca­tion.

A last ques­tion: When are we go­ing to start read­ing col­umns that don’t re­fer to the for­mer regime or to apartheid, or do we have to wait un­til the present gen­er­a­tion is dead and buried? a cer­tain po­si­tion. The ab­sence of this is a cause for con­cern and could threaten ex­ist­ing re­cruit­ment poli­cies. The ar­ti­cle spins a web of con­tra­dic­tions with the “apartheid regime” be­ing given an­other stab by Jekwa for “en­sur­ing that very few blacks had a “de­cent ed­u­ca­tion” and con­se­quently this stan­dard of “in­fe­rior ed­u­ca­tion” is still be­ing per­pet­u­ated in town­ship and rural schools. Even af­ter a decade of democ­racy and with a black Min­is­ter at the helm of Ed­u­ca­tion, the fail­ure of ed­u­ca­tion to reach “higher stan­dards” is still blamed on apartheid.

As an In­dian, but “for the pur­pose of the col­umn” as ex­pressed by Jekwa, I’m re­ferred to as “black”, a gen­er­al­i­sa­tion that’s hardly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the re­al­ity of the present state of af­fairs. Peo­ple might “hud­dle” un­der the um­brella of be­ing called “black” if this ben­e­fits them, but my spe­cific race clas­si­fi­ca­tion comes to the fore when I en­ter the stage of eco­nomics, pol­i­tics and on a so­cial level. If this were not so, there wouldn’t be race quo­tas im­ple­mented in the work­place to re­dress the in­equal­i­ties of the past and al­low “af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion” to as­sume its right­ful place. Are my skills or my qual­i­fi­ca­tions for a “pro­fes­sional po­si­tion” with a “marginally higher salary than my white coun­ter­parts” even a con­sid­er­a­tion, if I’m not de­mo­graph­i­cally suited in terms of the re­quire­ments of the em­ployer? Eth­i­cally, my ap­pli­ca­tion should be judged on merit, and mere to­kenism will con­firm that the cur­rent sys­tem is noth­ing more than “apartheid in re­verse” – but for the sake of the col­umn “we shall call it Democ­racy in South Africa”.

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