I had an instance today, where a young lady came to me for a job, where what she wanted above all was permanence of that employment! (Isthira rakiawak) She currently has a job where she likes her work, and has been at it for over a year, but it is NOT permanent. She could be let go at any time. So she wants one that she cannot be fired!!! This is the Sri Lankan job search psyche, and results in a lot of inefficiencies in the labor market. (marriage material)
This has been further exacerbated by this Government which has introduced a Rs10,000 a month extra for government servants when some in the private sector struggle to earn Rs10,000 as a basic wage. This has added a further very debilitative effect to an already rigid labor market, where an overloaded state sector is bleeding this country dry, with people who are not carrying their weight in that sector, and there are 200,000+ vacancies in the private sector that go unfilled, as there is no demand by the labor to take those jobs, either because they are not permanent! Or they pay too little, or they are not sufficiently dignified for those who they wish to attract. Further there is skills mismatch, where there are not sufficiently skilled people to fill the vacancy, at the higher level, while at the same time there is a brain drain of the self same skills to pastures new, as the terms of employment are not sufficiently attractive to retain these people. These are all factors in the current labor model, where the price point at which people will work, even if they are unemployed, is very high, for most people, due to the social insurances of living with family, entail livelihood security despite the lack of personal income.
Getting back to the theme I wish to introduce, due to the premium put on permanence, and the rigid labor laws, that make the private sector very wary of giving permanent jobs, THERE MUST be a lower pay grade for the Govt. job, NOT HIGHER! That is the challenge facing Sri Lanka today. People’s quest for permanent employment, and the public sector is the only one that possibly give some of these guarantees, should pay less. Only then will working in the private sector become more attractive.
I am inundated with people in the private sector seeking Govt. jobs, it is beyond comical, as it is the apparent employment security that the people are hankering after. So then pay them less. The other challenge, where it is held that Govt servants take bribes because they are paid less is also hogwash. They take bribes purely due to the bad example set in their service, not that they are badly paid, especially as they are simply greedy, and the offerings hard to decline!
Do not mix that with the fact that a PS member is only paid Rs10,000 where he takes bribes to supplement his meager income, and pay of his debts for winning office. They surely need a living wage to desist from taking bribes, not the current crop of Govt. servants. There are a few anomalies, like for judges, where unless they are paid a lot more, one will not get many with unquestionable superiority, who wish to serve in these positions, as being a lawyer is far more lucrative. That however is due to the profession itself that has gone out of its way to mislead the people who they serve, to enhance their remuneration, (read: cheat the public of life and limb by charging too much and dragging the cases for far too long)
Unless this anomaly is rectified, and supply and demand is matched, we will have this perception gap, that will affect free labor movement to fill the vacancies in the labor force.