I'm American with a question...Why do South Africans need cleaners in their homes...Help Please!
By - of_the_chosen33
Having more time for other things + alleviating struggles by employing a cleaner who would otherwise be jobless.
Spot on. We help them and they help us.
Exactly, thank you. The struggle is real is south africa with a huge population of unemployed
“Try not be judgmental” and the sentence following “we suck it up buttercup”…
Why does it bother you in the first place?
I thought people would think that is judgmental haha sorry.
It bothers me because my boyfriend is moving here to the states, and I am worried that there is going to be an issue when he must adjust, because we don't have cleaners here. We clean our own homes here and we are getting married soon after he comes, and I am just afraid it will cause conflict because he must adjust to our way of living and I have clinical OCD and require a clean house. I will need his help to maintain a clean home and not rely on a cleaner, so I need him to learn to get his hands dirty. And honestly, he only works 8 hours a day there, so he has time to clean so I just don't get it, sometimes he works longer but it is just the way he was raised.
I had a cleaning lady. She came in once a week and we paid her R2000 per month, and we gave her breakfast, lunch and extra food to take home. It wasn't that much from our monthly budget but to her that money helped her out a lot. Then we moved to the Netherlands and I had to do all the cleaning myself. It was fine, I could handle it, but that meant that my cleaning lady had less money per month (she told me it took her 6 months to find another family for the days she used to come to us).
Poverty is a thing here. Now I'm back in SA, divorced, broke and still do all the cleaning myself. But I'll hire a cleaner in a heartbeat if I could afford to because that would be helping some other family in a much worse financial situation than myself out. And yes, it would also be nice to come home to a clean house.
South Africans also don't bag their own groceries or fill their own cars with petrol. We also don't push our carts back after shopping, most of us would rather tip the car guard to do it. Not because we're lazy, but mostly because we don't have enough jobs for everyone and every little helps someone.
We have a massive supply of “unskilled” labour and huge unemployment.
Nobody “needs” a cleaner for their house, but the massive inequality makes it feasible for a middle class person who values family or personal time over a weekend to be able to afford somebody to clean their house for them for the equivalent of around US$20.
If you could pay somebody US$20 a day to come and clean your house once a week, wouldn’t you?
It’s a supply/demand thing. If labour was more expensive; more people would do it themselves. Many do already in these tough times which is why unemployment is skyrocketing even more are people cut back on such “luxuries”.
Cleaners in the US are a business usually. They may charge like 100 for the day and come once a week.
In SA a cleaner or garden worker cost like R150 (10$) per day so everyone in the middle class highers one.
I just go to a bunch of guys or women next to the street and ask if they want work for the day.
R150 is a bit low. I pay my cleaning lady R250 minimum per day once a week. . Imagine what they go home with once they've paid for transport.
We pay more if they come consistently (weekly) or they do good work or a lot of work. 150 is baseline!
We also drive them home if they work regularly.
I pay daily wages of R300 and extra if there was duties out of the norm such as spring cleaning or if my gardener decides to wash my car or help me paint a pot or fix a leak in the roof - I consider that out of their set duties and they get paid for that. My gardener would sometimes ask for something extra when he’s in a bind (he’s a youngster and recently got a girlfriend), so he’s after a little more. I pay for their transport too.
Wow, that’s insane lol this sounds like people who hire illegal immigrants over here for day labor and even that you would still pay much more then what you guys are paying for your laborers.
Edit: I live next to some South Africans and funny enough they hired cleaners and yard workers lol
Lol it's kinda crazy when I think about it but that's just how I was brought up.
We also call them helpers/mama/auntie/gogo not cleaners or maids, We have them because it creates employment they sometimes become the backbone of a family especially a family with small kids, my grandmother was a helper during apartheid and because of the family she worked for she was able to provide for her kids.
It's not for the same reason
It's a holdover from apartheid.
Because of a socio-economic structure from Apartheid that still hasn't been fixed, you've got loads of poor black people ripe and ready to be used for menial labor at low cost.
On reflection, I think there is significant difference in terms of the scope and the intensity of apartheid that means that you don't even need to be that rich to afford a maid in South Africa.
Still, at heart, it's as you've described above
Maybe you are being judgmental, and maybe you are justified in that. I dunno. This is just one of those things that we do.
Plenty of reasons to justify it, but in all honesty it's awesome having someone to look after you and your house. Especially if it's someone you can trust and love.
For 4 months last year we did not have our domestic worker, due to her being in a different province ("home") during a hard lockdown. It honestly made us appreciate our maid infinitely more than what we did previously, not that we didn't before - she's been with us for like 25 years.
From a purely transactional perspective, she provides a service to us, and gets paid well for it. Yes it is a convenience, just like going to a restaurant is a convenience or getting takeaway.
I mean it might seem odd to a farmer in Mongolia that we don't raise our own horses, goats or yaks for milk and meat, and rather pay someone else to do it.
Lol! "We suck it buttercup"? What does that mean?
It means whether we are tired or not, after a long day of work, we cook, we clean we take care of the kids, the house the responsibilities. I wasn't saying it to be rude, it is just a saying here in the south.
I see. We were flooded with US tv media during the Apartheid-era... yet very little of it seems to include much vernacular people in the US actually use.
I don't think your boyfriend has told you all that much about this... perhaps because he doesn't understand it all that well himself. The whole "cleaner once a week" thing is a definite step down from how it used to work in South Africa. The truth is that a lot of middle-class folks (which is still very white but not exclusively so) will use the services of a cleaner because it's so damn cheap. Considering that this entire country basically runs on impoverished black people's labor, this isn't all that surprising once you think about it.
We don't have much but we try to pay our earnings down. The average family employs about 2 persons, a maid and a gardener, this means that 2 families although poor have earnings. Here in rsa you build from what you have and hope the next gen is a step higher.
I haven’t *needed* a cleaner in my home since my kids left home 10 years ago, I do have one though simply because if I let her go, she will be without an income and be poorer than what she already is.
I have a gardener too, we have big yards and it needs constant maintenance, I have the same attitude to his work, he works once a week and have two other homes he maintains, that pay is what he lives on, and it’s not much.
We have mass poverty here, and whatever the reason people employ help for, it alleviates someone’s struggle.
I haven't had a maid for 10-15 years and work full time, but have no kids. Honestly I am not the common case. If you are full time employed it is almost expected that you should have a maid.
I have trust issues and the last lady I had working for me really let me down. There are other reasons I don't have anyone cleaning for me. It seems kind of exploitive to pay someone so little to clean just because they are willing to accept that low fee (minimum wage is +-$1.5 per hour here). I don't earn huge amounts of money myself so I can't pay much more then an average fee. On the flip side of that, paying someone would help them with employment which is a huge issue here.
In the end I can clean fine myself. I am not an uncaring person and help people in other ways. I don't judge people if they have a maid. It's each person's choice.
It's different for everyone. I grew up with a cleaner (or maid) and a gardener but not for the reasons most people outside of RSA I tell this to thinks.
The gardener in question was a friend of my dad's who worked as a security guard for the nearby university but had trouble affording his own place. We had a spare room we didn't need so my parents offered it to him rent free, the way he'd "pay" is to help with the garden on the weekends and help keep an eye on us, whether my dad was around or not didn't matter. With help I mean it was often the two of them in the garden not just the one. My brother and I saw him as a 2nd father, or an uncle, not some gardener.
The cleaner was a friend of my mother's from work and we had her come in 3 times a week to help with some of the cleaning (not all) and she worked about 3 or 4 hours a day but was paid for a full day's work. She wasn't doing well financially so my parents wanted to help her by giving some work even if we didn't need it.
Years later parents split due to death, moved town and my widow dad got a new cleaner for a while. Why? Same reason most south africans do, to help someone who was struggling not because he needed it.
My brother has a cleaner come in once a week because he struggles with some things (not for lack of trying)
I'm sure your partner will adjust just fine when moving to the States.
Here in South Africa we have a lot of jobs people find odd in order to make work rather than tell people to stay on thw streets, like car park security, people pumping our gaa and checking tire pressure etc.
I'm also incredibly tired while writing this so I do apologize if I started trailing off or came across rude. I hope I helped answer your question.
Remember to call it a Braai and not a BBQ for your partner
It’s not necessary to have a cleaner in South Africa , yes most homes do have but majority of them have them due to children and so forth , but myself and my wife don’t have a cleaner we do everything ourselves.
In South Africa it is common for both parents to work, so they hire a domestic worker to help them clean and sometimes cook. We (this is a pretty national thing) love to come home to a clean house. Also unless you live in a house (detached from other people’s houses and not in a complex) it is not needed.
Housekeeping is extremely cheap to take on in SA. In fact cheap enough for most South Africans to rather employ somebody to clean and look after their home while away working than for them to do it themselves.
If unemployment wasn't so bad, and laws protected this type of labour with minimum wages, then it wouldn't be as popular.
Here in CA and I'm sure the same in US.. cost of taking somebody on to clean your house can be upwards of 100 USD a day. Here they charge around 200 CAD.. that's close to half a months salary for a domestic in SA, just for one day.
So comparatively it's far cheaper and people need work. South Africans do unfortunately work more and work harder than people up here. Part of surviving in Africa..
Here in North America life allows a bit more time to look after your own stuff.
To correct an assumption, minimum wage is applicable and so is payment to the unemployment fund should you let them go. They also receive sick and annual leave. All legislated to protect the workers.
Yeah ok so I didn't mean it wasn't there, it's just not nearly comparable to what you pay here. But yes, there is a minimum wage and you legally need to contribute to their employment insurance. Although most prefer not to have this done so they can continue drawing grants from the state.
It's still dirt cheap in comparison to most first world countries and labour costs..
There are three grants you can apply for: old age (pension); child and disability grants. This leaves men and women without children at the mercy of scarce employment to receive an income. Grants does not apply to everyone. A child grant is in the region of R400 per month last I checked, hardly enough to feed a child never mind a family. Grants are granted if you earn less than a certain amount, day workers still qualify for it. All the helpers I know of in my circle are registered.
Of course, man. The cost of living in the US is much more due to the fact, shacks and shantytowns just don’t exist, and so these workers can live on minimum wage excellently sometimes even with family. Also if they get sick or get hurt, we don’t have to pay the gdp of Bolivia
Shantytowns do exist in the US. See Skid Row and the like.
Not everyone has one. But yeah most families have one. Generally it's cheap to pay for one. There is a lot of unemployment and it's a way to make money. Sometimes families will have domestic workers who have been with the family for many years. They help to raise the kids. Cook the food, clean the house. It's a two parter. People are busy and want a clean house, and people are desperate for work and will do literally anything.
If you can afford one and it makes your life easier so you have more time to spend with your family then why not? I personally wouldn't get one but that's because I don't like other people in my space. Also some people don't really need one but is doing it out of kindness. My mom has a lady who does her laundry and she mostly hired her because she was a single mom and unemployed for a long time.
If it were affordable for you to hire someone to clean your house so you could have more free time and not have to scrub your floors, wouldn't you? Because that's the reality here - it's affordable, and there are people willing to do it, so they get paid to do it. You could probably go way more in depth and talk about unemployment rates, unskilled labour surplus, maybe even cultural norms and apartheid holdover social dynamics, but at its core I really just think the answer is "because we can afford to".
And this happens in many other countries as well where labour is cheap (think India, Nigeria, Brazil etc). The cultural intricacies of the "domestic" and the "madam" may be quintessentially South African, but the act of hiring someone to clean for you is most definitely not.
"most" people don't have extra help. It's usually those who have disposable income, which isn't easy to come by anymore in South Africa
I'd like to point out that when you say "mostly if not everyone", you are referring to white people. The large majority of South Africans are black and cannot afford a cleaner due to the oppression of Apartheid.
Erm… no, middle class black people have helpers too. I’m pretty certain Cyril has one and it goes all the way down. We are explicitly stating that the poorer population fulfill these jobs.
Not "white" or "black" but the middle class have cleaners. It's all a part of providing jobs for the large majority of the unskilled labour force (pretty much just black because of white apartheid advantages).
You obviously know nothing about whats going on here. So you blame todays poverty on something that ended 26 years ago? Haha no that is not what has caused poverty. Try corruption for starters. Most of the middle class is probably black and they have helpers too.