Lessons and Direction for our Labour Market; Workplaces and Society in General.
Written by Glen Cormack, The Fairness Institute.
My unfortunate experience is that employers say “This is not my problem. I pay them their wages. I pay rates and taxes. That is where my responsibilities begin and end. The government must correct these issues – not me.” Covid-19 has shown us that our government and leadership at every level of society have failed to address these issues. And the challenge is so large our government, with the best will in the world, cannot and will not address them all. So, if they care; if they want to prevent the disintegration of society in the face of the highest inequalities in the world; if they want to sustain our businesses and income streams, they have to consider joining government and other social partners in putting their shoulders to the wheel and find creative solutions to the challenges of inequality and/or direct or indirect discrimination.
Once this “fact file” is developed, comes the next initiative of engaging employees and their representatives in discussing what can and should be done to address these serious inequalities. Please note that this cannot and should not be a matter of bargaining/negotiations. It must be an issue of correcting what is wrong. It must be a process of caring. It cannot be a public relations initiative.
Whilst every effort every single employer can make would be a contribution to correcting the wrongs in our society, employers acting collectively can have a far greater effect. If a sector or a group of disparate businesses join together in a region, they could build a school or clinic; they could “adopt” an existing school or hospital; they could pool resources to contribute to food security in their communities; they could implement projects that government is not doing; they can run crèches, after-school centres, bursary schemes or skills training centres; initiate decent housing schemes or guarantees; make land available for food gardens or sports fields, or do hundreds of things that will make a meaningful difference within their societies. If they want to!
Again though, it must not be a paternalistic contribution to their communities but a contribution with employees and their wider communities. After all, are the employees not members of those communities; not also customers or potential customers? Are they not current or future contributors to the regional and national economies? Are they not fellow human beings? Are they not our neighbours or even brothers and sisters?
To be continued in the next edition of GPS News.