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Hi, it’s me, Azlan. Before my present job, I have worked in a couple of companies. The longest job that I hold onto was with this one civil engineering company, which of course pretty much involved in renovation, construction and other civil engineering works.

What I want to share is when we managed to secure this one project for the company. It was a road construction project. If I am not mistaken it was to be completed somewhere in Kepong Kuala Lumpur.

Most of us (or only the contractors probably) know that road construction is not an easy task. Even though there are heavy machines, we still need skilled workers to do it. And in Malaysia, most road contractors would normally depends on skilled Indian migrants/labours. The workers are very skilled in this area as we can pretty see or probably because of the sheer heat of the tarmac.

So, when we first got that small project, we did not have much experience in road construction. Therefore, we decided to look for a group of Indian nationals to be the manual labour for us (machines are handled by its respective operators). We managed to get in contact and negotiate with 6 of them, for a daily wage of RM70.00 per person for 5 days, which roughly translates to RM2,100 in total. Well, we believed the rate is reasonable, equalled to the work. With the material, labour and other costing have been accounted for, we are seeing at a modest profit of 10% to 20% of the total project value.

The day came and we rolled out the tarmac. In 5 consecutive days we managed to complete the road as planned. Everybody was pleased. On this fifth day, it was payday for the Indian labours. And so we spared RM2,100 for their pay. Little that we know that it was WRONG! Totally! Why? Because on that day they handed us a crumpled piece of paper which looked like this…

payday1So if it just hit you, even they (the manual labour) know their worth. It is not just only about skills. They charged us for every single thing. Why? They too have to live, as so do we and so do you. We have to pay for the our meals, petrol, transport, phone, utilities, software, web hosting etc. One question that came to our mind, “Is what you are getting really worth it?”

Photography is not all about business. The scope is too wide for everyone to be on the same path. Different people will have different perspective and some might not understand the other. It doesn’t mean if people would not want to hire you, you are  not a good photographer. I would say, “What they want doesn’t suit me” or “They are just not for me”. Before anything else, do it for yourself.

I would not want to say much but if you are going into photography business or whatever business that it might be, please…know your worth!

So where do you stand now?

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Gaji – wages

Makan – meals

Taksi – taxi

Cangkul – hoe

Rake – rake

Pongkes – a kind of rattan-made basket to carry dirt

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