“I fully support calls by the unions for decent work.   I have worked for 42 years for the same company and now serve as a non-executive director on one of its boards.   Work has been a major part of my life;  and I can count myself very lucky that it has always been decent and challenging and I have been decently remunerated.   My work has immeasurably improved my quality of life”.

Clem Sunter’s excellent recent article on the news24 website is essential reading –  Decent work means decent business.   Here are some extracts.

“So what should we do to create more decent work?   Unlike other articles which only deal in generalities, I am going to offer my personal list of specific recommendations:

1              We should change the grand objective of creating five million jobs by 2020 to creating one million new businesses by 2020 that will lead to at least five million jobs if not more.   The reason for doing this is to recognise that decent work of any kind flows from the growth in number of enterprises.   Even civil servant jobs and public works programmes are financed out of the taxation that comes from increasing the number of transactions (VAT), boosting the number of companies (company tax) and raising the number of employees (income tax) working in the additional businesses.

2             We should optimise the environment in which small business growth can take place, and particularly in which informal sector champions can graduate into the formal business sector and maybe one day into becoming world class players with an international customer base.   This will require a revolutionary approach to tax, micro-lending, angel and venture capital investing, business school entrepreneurial programmes and slashing bureaucratic red tape surrounding business formation so that entrepreneurs have the flexibility to survive the uncertainties of start-up.

3              We should have an Entrepreneurial Economic Empowerment Programme (EEE) where scorecards of large companies, banks and others have a substantial number of points riding on their contribution towards the development of small business and a more participative, democratic economy where economic power is more widely shared.

4              In order to ensure that large companies are decent businesses in the second meaning of offering a decent environment in which to work, we should make it obligatory that they publish in their Annual Report a corporate Gini Coefficient.   This would measure the remuneration level of the top salary earners (including all bonuses and gains from share options) versus that of the bottom wage earners.   One could then make comparisons across companies and industries, but more importantly judge whether a company is behaving decently in a Hard Times economic scenario by spreading the pain across the entire workforce including the Board of Directors.   If the workers are asked to exercise restraint, so should the directors in order that everybody keeps his or her job.

These actions more than any others will lead us down the New Growth Path”.