Wednesday, 8 August 2012

"So, what are they going to pay you?"

I have been asked that question more than once. People assume you are going to get a fair day's wage for a fair day's work. In reality I get a small allowance for caring for my father and the rest of my workload is "voluntary".  It is "voluntary" in the sense I do not get paid for it but the reality is that failing to do my job means other people cannot do theirs and that means that hospitals and schools do not get built, roads do not get made, bridges do not get repaired, ancient buildings crumble, operations are not performed etc. My payment is knowing those things get done, that I have had a very small part in providing the communications necessary to get the work done.
And, this morning, I realise I actually get well paid even in financial terms. There is a front page story saying that the Thai government is offering to have cars made there for $Aus1.12 an hour (less than 50p at the current rate of exchange). If they succeed then the workers will think themselves well paid. Our local unions will be furious at the low rate of pay being offered and the jobs being lost off shore but there is another side to the story.
I know someone whose family runs a pharmaceutical/laboratory supplies business in Thailand. They have been there for many years. Their staff have been with them for many years too. Positions are often handed on to the next generation in the family. Working for them is considered to be very good fortune. The physical conditions are excellent, the hours are good, the other conditions are good and the pay is good.
They still make a healthy profit. Some of it gets ploughed back into the local community. They needed a good water supply but when they built it they extended it to the local community. It was a first innocent gesture which won them a lot of support. They learned from that and realised it was the way to go.
Now there's a school and a medical clinic with a small hospital. There are other facilities as well.  It did not all come at once. The local community was made to feel that they had earned it, that it was not charity or a gift.
There are problems of course. There always will be. Corruption is ever present. Even so it is a community which works well
I know though that the workers there earn slightly less per week than I do. I do not have to feed myself or house myself on the money I get. They do. Yes, living expenses are different there but the fact remains that I am better "paid" than they are.

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