In a country where racial imbalances and inequality thrive, labour conditions are not all rosy for the majority, especially for the blacks. A new study has revealed that South Africans may be the hardest working people in the world, they are three times more likely to work 60 hours than Americans.
A study conducted by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed that on average, South Africa employees work 43.5 hours, making South Africa the fifth hardest working country in a sample of countries. The countries ahead of South Africa when it comes to such labour issues are Turkey, followed by Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica. As for the countries which have the least working hours, Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands lead the pack.
Even though South African labour laws expressly prohibit more than 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours in overtime, it was established by the study that nearly 12% of South African workers spend 60 hours per week on the job. Black men under the age of 45 constitute the largest chunk of the hardest working people in South Africa. In a country with high unemployment, these would be the people in semi-skilled occupation and lucky to have a permanent job.
There are some striking disparities between the public and the private sector. The number of hours worked between the two are worlds apart. This can be attributed to increased competition in the public sector and a general unwillingness in the private sector to openly disregard some stringent labour laws. The following are some of the average hours worked as per industry from 1997-2011 : Mining 45.3 hours, Wholesale and retail 44.7 hours, Financial and business services 43.7 hours, Transport and communication 43.6 hours, Manufacturing 43.3 hours, Electricity, gas, and water supply 42.6 hours, Construction 42.2 hours, Social services 40.8 hours.
It is important to note that these statistic do not take into account those from the informal sectors like agriculture, domestic work, and other low-income jobs. The figures here are all taken from the formal employment sector. The standard of who works harder than who becomes even more raised taking into effect this fact.
Women, on the overall, work more hours than men. Women spend 23% of their day working, while men spend 19% of their day working. South African women without a housekeeper spend 183 minutes per day on housework, as opposed to 75 minutes for men. Women living with children also spent an average of 87 minutes per day taking care of them, compared to men, who spent seven minutes.
Current working hours studies also excluded domestic labor like fetching water, which added 44 to 71 minutes per day of work, depending on the distance to the main water source. Black households in former bantustans or rural areas were most likely to be affected. Once again, it was mainly women who bore the burden of this unpaid work, starting in childhood.
Where some figures are not taken into account, it becomes clear that when it comes to labour issues, there is the point of people working more than what they are getting in return. The situation is more pronounced especially for black South Africans.
Header Image credit: Quartz Africa