Outsourcing, the solution to labour woes

By Arnoux Maré, group CEO, Innovative Solutions Group, MD, Innovative Staffing Solutions

 

The majority of South Africa’s working class live on the outskirts of commercial centres and have the longest commutes – averaging 88 minutes every day travelling to work and back (according to the National Traffic Survey by Statistics South Africa, 2013). In comparison, the middle class live closer and spend only 54 minutes in traffic.

Buses make a tremendous difference, in time and money, to the lives of the working class. However, nothing quite drives the point home like a situation when they are suddenly unavailable. Therefore, new ways of thinking and doing are required to address South Africa’s ongoing labour unrest woes.

Some jobs, such as driving buses and trucks, are not well suited to regular conditions of employment or ‘office hours’. Yet South African companies and municipalities in most cases persist with an inefficient model which has contributed to the recent nationwide passenger bus strike, organised by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), after a breakdown during wage negotiations. Despite the strike being over, the aftermath serves as a reminder to us that some of South Africa’s most dire labour issues have not been resolved and are merely swept under the carpet in a compromise that unions have often labelled a ‘sell-out’.

Besides an increased working wage, the strike also shone a spotlight on bus drivers’ objection to reporting for work for a three-hour morning shift, breaking for eight hours while everyone else is working, and then working a further five hours later on. One must remember that many of these drivers take a long commute to get to work, like the thousands of passengers that they transport. Because of this, they often cannot sleep in-between their driving periods, which results in fatigue and subsequently endangers their passengers and other road users.

The solution lies in outsourcing the responsibility and accountability for your staff to market leaders such as Innovative Staffing Solutions in South Africa. This would allow the various bus companies to focus on their core competency while Innovative Staffing Solutions takes care of the staffing needs – ensuring that staff is trained, proficient and suited to specific business needs. Because we have numerous contracts with various clients across many different sites, Innovative Staffing Solutions is able to shift drivers between sites according to work pressure and clients’ market and operational demands. Most employers are unable to accomplish this due to a company’s limited and isolated workforce. Yet this is the best way to manage the type of shift work experienced by bus drivers.

Separating the two working periods into two shifts also alleviates the long hours experienced by drivers. Further, our efficient management of staff reduces the total cost of employment, resulting in a lesser cost which will enable the company to offer better benefits to its employees.

Why do companies fear that outsourcing their staff serves the opposite and can be the quickest route to strike action? It is often assumed, wrongfully so, that we operate as labour brokers and thus our employees are temporary. Although our employees are contracted out to various sites, to them that is just part of their job as a permanent Innovative Staffing Solutions employee. They operate as permanent staff with accompanying benefits long after the contract ends with any particular client. We are experts in human resources and labour relations and typically have higher levels of loyalty than other companies. This is why we have never had any incidents of labour unrest since our inception six years ago.

By outsourcing their staffing needs and management thereof, companies are freed to focus exclusively on their operations and their core business functions. This is part of a growing global business trend, recognising that it is smart business to outsource your weaknesses so that you can build your strengths. More so, South Africa cannot afford another bus strike of this magnitude and has to proactively circumvent a repeat of the consequences caused by it. This includes a 51% increase in the death toll on our roads over the Easter weekend, as well as having a negative impact productivity which our ailing economy cannot afford.

Archive 2019

August
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