Big money is on Sweden, not us – by Peter Delmar (Times – March 13, 2014) [South Africa]

Congratulations. We’re pleased to offer you a position as a rock drill operator at Platneus Platinum Mines Number 11 shaft. You start next Monday. Thank you, Mr van Schalkwyk. Did you say I’d be getting R12 500 a month?

No, I’m afraid I didn’t. We can offer you half that amount. This business of R12 500 is pie in the sky; we have no idea where Amcu got that figure. Let me explain: if you look at the management car park, what do you see?

Erm, three Lexuses, two BMWs and four Mercedes-Benzes. No wait, five Mercedes-Benzes?

Precisely. Do you know what German luxury sedans cost nowadays? And I can tell you our stand at the Mining Indaba this year cost us northwards of half a bar – to say nothing about the sundowner Table Bay cruise and the drinks and snacks we laid on to keep the analysts, shareholders and media happy. Then we had to provide a belly dancer, of all things, to keep guests entertained once they were properly sloshed.

The government has told us to convert our hostels to single-occupancy rooms: that doesn’t come cheap either, you know. And don’t even get me started on what it costs to fix all the machines your friends in the union broke during last year’s strike. The CCMA just doesn’t get it that mining is a very expensive business these days, and we can’t go frittering away any profits we might make on salaries.

Hmm, that’s very disappointing. Well, I won’t be able to start on Monday because I’m going to be on strike then.

But you haven’t even started work yet. How on earth can you go on strike before you start working?

Everyone else is going to be on strike. You can hardly expect me to work when my comrades are bravely fighting their resolute, principled struggle against the evil hegemony of heartless capital while sitting at home in their underpants watching daytime repeats of Isidingo. Anyhow, this is South Africa – everyone knows we go on strike at this time of year every year. It’s just what we do.

Yes, I see your point. Oh well, report for duty whenever your proletarian conscience – or the union leadership – allows it. We’ll see you when we see you.

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