Twice every week I come home to a beautifully cleaned house. Sometimes I don’t even see the person responsible for this state of cleanliness that makes it so nice for me to fall onto the couch, put my feet up, and end the day on a cosy…and rather hygienic note. But the person responsible for all this is Thandi, a 29 year old mother of two from a township not too far from here. She’s “my helper”.
For my British friends, I should probably let you know; in Africa, we have maids. Yes, it’s very common for the bustling middle class that’s growing daily in this part of the world. In fact, we have people filling our cars at the fuel stations too. No need to leave your car in the cold and rain, put on those plastic gloves, and refuel yourself. In fact, we have no cold either. Who’s royalty now? 😉
But lavish as this all sounds, it’s actually rather deplorable. Such menial jobs exist because of the broad gap between the haves and the have-nots of this continent. The gap is very wide and continues to widen rapidly. This brings us to the issue I wish to scribble about today i.e. the labour abuses taking place in our very homes.
The other day as I was paying Thandi, I asked myself: how does she survive on this money? I pay her R100 for each day she works. That’s £7.01 (US$11.18) for each day she works. To put this in perspective, the UK National Minimum Wage rate for someone of Thandi’s age is £6.19 (US$9.87) per hour. That’s R88.31 PER HOUR. So essentially, I pay Thandi per day what she’d earn per hour in the UK. No wonder Brits don’t widely have maids. Who’d be able to afford £50 a day for a house help.
I have since increased Thandi’s wage but it’s still a pittance, one that should be reviewed on a global scale I’m sure. Being a house help is an incredibly difficult job and I’m ashamed to say we are taking advantage of these women. And what’s worse, many of them are single mothers. How are their children supposed to have the same chances in life as our children on R100 a day? Add to that the fact it’s difficult to obtain daily work.
There’s no doubt that, if we paid our domestic workers what they are really worth, most of us would either be cleaning up after ourselves or living in filth. *Just scribbling my thoughts*
Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.