Low-end jobs in St. Kitts vs. Europe

One difference we noticed between Europe and St. Kitts is that there are lots more people doing low-end jobs here. By low-end, I mean jobs that simply don't exist in Europe.

In European supermarkets I've been to - Slovenian at least - you always need to bag your own groceries. You are pretty much in competition with the cashier in whether you'll be able to bag the groceries in time for them to pass you the bill. In St. Kitts, there's almost always someone there to bag the groceries for you. Sometimes there is more than one person. Sometimes there's even someone who helps you take the groceries to the car - all jobs that don't exist in Europe.

Then there's the local Marriott hotel, which appears to have built a parking lot insufficient for its current popularity. On the busier evenings, people parked all over the place, making the parking lot impossible to navigate. What would a European manager do? Install an expensive ramp to count the number of cars and refuse entry when the parking lot is full. What does the St. Kitts Marriott do? They have a guy standing there all evening, and he lets you in if there are parking spaces available, and doesn't let you in if it is full.

Why do these jobs exist in St. Kitts, but they don't exist in Europe? Why do Europeans employ machinery for the same purpose Kittitians employ people? Is it technological backwardness? That's probably a factor - equipment is more difficult to get here, to install, and to maintain. But if that were all, why do St. Kitts customers get groceries bagged for them, while European customers must do without?

Perhaps the answer might have something to do with the government being keen to see local companies employ more people. But - governments like to see companies employ more people everywhere.

I propose that European stores do not have people bagging groceries for you because of two things:
  1. Minimum wage.
  2. Laws make it difficult to fire people.
If laws make it difficult for you to manage your workforce, and you have the option to choose either a person or machinery, you'll choose machinery. If the machinery malfunctions, it can be fixed. A faulty worker can't be fixed, and European legislation makes it hard indeed to get rid of a worker who is not operating properly. Hence no job for the worker.

That, and the minimum wage, make it more efficient to replace a person with a machine, or to even not provide an unessential service, to the detriment of all.

Comments

verbatim said…
In Australia cashier usually bag everything for you. And they are almost as fast as European ones, which don't need to bag things for you.

Do in St. Kitts (like on some other islands) still employ people at gas stations so they can fill your car tank :) ? I found this job unneccesary.
denis bider said…
Yes they do! That's another great example of a low-end job that doesn't exist in Europe. We from Europe find it uncomfortable at first - we're not used to other people busying themselves with our cars. But it's actually quite convenient. You don't even have to get out of the car; just pull up, wait a bit, pay through the car window, and drive off.
Anonymous said…
Pri nas v Sloveniji lahko živila in ostale zadeve naročimo na internetu in nam jih dostavijo na dom.

In če bi šel sam nakupovat v trgovino, ne vem, zakaj bi moral nekdo mi držati vrečo. V bistvu to pomeni, da so izdelki dražje, ker morajo še nosače vzdrževati.
denis bider said…
Anonimni,

odgovor na tvoj prvi odstavek: v članku ne govorim o tem, da je na St. Kittsu civilizacija na višji stopnji, ker to preprosto ni. Govorim o tem, kako je možno, da večja ekonomska svoboda omogoča, da najdejo produktivno zaposlitev tudi tisti, ki v rigidnejšem okolju sicer visijo na Zavodu. Po mojem mnenju veliko večino nezaposlenosti ustvarijo birokrati in sindikati z ustvarjanjem nefleksibilnih razmer na trgu delovne sile.

Odgovor na tvoj drugi odstavek: po taki logiki čistoča po tleh pri nakupovanju prav tako ni nujna, saj imaš vendar obute čevlje in ne rabiš pobirati ničesar iz tal. Zato je odveč, da Interspar zaposluje čistilke, saj bi brez težav lahko hodili tudi po umazaniji.

Nakupovanje, pri katerem ti ni treba samemu basati stvari v vrečo, temveč to storijo drugi namesto tebe, je pač veliko bolj komfortno, kot pa če moraš tekmovati s prodajalko. Tako kot je veliko bolj komfortno nakupovati v urejeni trgovini, v kateri so tla čista.

Seveda pa nimam čisto nič proti, če sam obuješ škornje in nakupuješ v Hofferju. :)
timg said…
How about tips for these workers, is that expected in St. Kitts. When I was growing up we had stations with attendants to pump gas as well as baggers that brought the groceries to the car. It was always customary to tip a little. These jobs have pretty much vanished though, unless you go to a real small town that still does it the old way.

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