The ‘working poor,’ are increasing. These people spend their productive time in jobs that don’t pay them enough to build wealth. They only receive enough to survive on. They will likely never be able to change their economic status as they can’t afford to.
If you earn enough to build your wealth, for example you can buy property, vehicles, investment funds and have insurance policies; you are able to turn your income into wealth and protect it. You have adequate resources to advance your economic status.
Income Inequality: How your job makes you poor
What income inequality means
Income inequality refers to the gap between the well-off and the less well-off.
It’s how some people in the economy get paid much lower wages than others, such as wages paid to ordinary workers and those paid to CEOs.
According to Oxfam’s ‘Inequality Report: An economy for the 99% in SA’, quoted in the Business Day, the richest 1% of the South African population has 42% of the total wealth.
In fact, inequality is so bad in South Africa that our economy is described as ‘broken.’
“Such inequality is a sign of a broken economy, from global to local, and lack of will from government to change the status quo,” executive director Sipho Mthathi said. “Governments including the South African government, can act to help everyone, not just those at the top.
The poor are not only the unemployed. When you earn minimal wages, your job is a poverty trap allowing you to earn enough to survive on, but not enough to secure financial security.
The working poor are dependent on low-income jobs as they lack the financial resources to see them through the tough times. Their work conditions may prevent them from looking for other jobs as they don’t have the resources and time. They are stuck and dependent on a system that disadvantages them daily.
Get it? The 1% keeps the ‘poor’ poor by paying them just enough to survive on but not enough to build savings and negotiate or select their income.
‘Poor’ includes being deprived of information for economic decision-making, such as which interviews are financially worth attending.
Why has this decision-making right been taken from members of society?
Job Applicants and Wage Negotiations
In South Africa, we see income inequality by race and gender. Meaning that there are women who agree to work for less than men and black people who agree to earn less than other races.
Agree? Yes, job applicants agree to unfair wages. Everyone does – that’s why we have income inequality, because employees agree to it.
But what if the facts during the recruitment and selection process were defined in a way that made applicants believe they were accepting fair offers?
Legislation and Interviews
Labour relationships are guided by the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the South African Constitution.
If you are being interviewed for a job, the LRA and BCEA don’t provide any protection for applicants from unscrupulous employers.
However the Employment Equity Act and the Constitution can.
Job interviews and Employer Power
Ideology refers to a system of ideas and ideals that form the basis of economic or political theory and policy.
Business has created an ideology for recruiting and selecting from the *poor job seeker, the *unemployed job seeker and the *employed job seeker that is based on increased opportunism and assumptions of power.
*These separations of applicants suggest different negotiating powers e.g. An employed job seeker potentially has more power during a recruitment and selection process than an unemployed poor person. The employed person can refuse an offer while the poor, will submit as they don’t have alternative financial security to prevent them from accepting low offers.
(Let’s define ‘poor’ as someone who has never have had consistent employment, owns no assets, has no access to financial support, has limited clothes, food, toiletries with little access to technology.)
Withholding pay information became ‘widely practiced’ as it feeds profiteering ideology
Business manipulates the population into believing that even when their practices go against the interests of society, they have a right to this power simply because it’s not ‘unusual.’ Corporations want the public to believe that questioning their behavior is a hostile, criminal act. Why?
Question This Ideological Power and Protest Against It
The ‘unusual practice’ that must be questioned and prevented is the withholding of pay information from job adverts. It entrenches an unlimited potential to increase working poverty and income inequality.
The lies that build millionaires
If we agree that business should have the right to decide what information society can question and what information job applicants may have a right to – then they possess the ability to dominate and diminish society’s active interests in, and need for ‘fairness.’
According to the Oxfam report, “the economy of the top 1% was built on a set of false assumptions” that must be exposed, namely:
• The market is always right and the role of governments should be minimised;
• Companies need to maximise profits and returns to shareholders at all costs;
• Extreme individual wealth is benign and a sign of success and inequality is not relevant;
• GDP growth should be the primary goal of policy making;
• The economic model is genders neutral; and
• The planet’s resources are limitless.
This post touches on a range of large topics to be explored in the future, so keep visiting!
- Job adverts without salary information are untrustworthy as they are used to disadvantage applicants and treat them unfairly. Low salaries are as a result of what applicants are willing to accept under pressure, during a wage negotiation.
- If you are a woman and if you are black, the evidence shows that you will be exploited in the labour market and offered lower wages. Job adverts that disclose pay information are less likely to require secrets to maintain the CEOs wealth.
- Applicants must study negotiation and be ready to fight for a fair wage.
- The lies that build millionaires exist in a society that is largely passive, ignorant of ‘fair’ and vulnerable to the unfair.