All These Public Holidays are Lunacy In a Developing Nation Such As Ours

Is it just me who thinks that all these public holidays are madness, especially in a country which needs to work and needs to produce?

In South Africa, December is a poor month unless you are in retail, January is regarded as a half month as people only start working mid-month following the holiday recess, and then April is a complete write-off, with so many poorly spaced public holidays crammed into one period.

Surely, too many public holidays forces potential investors to avoid the country whilst raising employer costs by tens of millions of Rand?

Every paid holiday goes to the bottom line of company balance sheets, and, like minimum wages, can pressure firms that operate on low-profit margins to either reduce their workforce, close, or move to countries who simply work longer hours than we do.

Is it a coincidence that hard working nations including Germany and China are currently faring much better than others such as Greece and Portugal where people’s productivity is weaker and people work far less?

In South Africa, we should be in a hurry to work, but government rarely consults business stakeholders about all these holidays, despite each holiday adding tens of millions of Rands to their payrolls.

In January this year, two senior economists warned that first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) results could be negatively affected if proactive steps were not taken. Standard Bank senior economist Johan Botha said that public holidays could result in loss of production in certain sectors of the economy. “Also, in some sectors, it’s really costly to stop production and then start the process a few days later,” he said.

Another senior economist, Mike Shussler, bemoaned South Africa’s “high number” of public holidays.

“The broader picture is that South Africa has too many public holidays. We have 12 in number, whilst other countries have 10,” he said. He warned of a spike in the cost of labour and possible loss in productivity in the first quarter of this year and appealed to employers to start negotiations with their employees. “There will be some additions to the usual public holidays in 2011, thanks to the Monday rule and some tempting long weekends that only require one day’s leave,” he said.

In a country that is competing globally, is it just me that thinks it’s madness that the Public Holidays Act determines that whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it should be a public holiday?

InMay another holiday on the 18th, is coming along for Municipal elections. Surely we can follow other more productive countries and hold elections on weekends instead of killing another week just after the lengthy April holidays?

Does government not realise that all these holidays make our nation uncompetitive? Small companies that lack the resources to pay extra holiday pay cannot afford to pay costs with no income. If someone is running a manufacturing concern, months like April kill productivity and for service businesses who sell time, these holidays simply reduce income. Potential foreign investors will simply shun a country that doesn’t create a hard working commercial ethic.

If you operate on a low margin and your cost increases, then you start looking elsewhere. Who wants to invest in a place where government gives their nationals so much paid chill-out time?
A developing country like this one cannot afford to waste time in endless holidays instead of working hard to catch up with advanced economies who simply work far harder than we do

I’m interested in your view?