Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Striking news from Pretoria

I’ve decided to use the word “striking” for a change as “chaos” has become somewhat of a cliché.

For outside onlookers and those who do not reside permanently in Pretoria, it may appear that the majority of the inhabitants are living affluent lifestyles. In reality the only people who can really afford to live lavishly, are those who are employed directly by the government, or who are employed with semi-government facilities, such as ARMSCOR. The rest of the population in this city, - the average 9 to 5 worker and also the vast majority of business owners, have to count every single penny they earn, – twice! Although the SA Police have apparently done an excellent job of forcibly removing most of the impoverished whites living on the streets in Pretoria, the number of beggars ringing my doorbell everyday is definitely on the rise. Remind me again, -- who said the entire nation was going to benefit from the 2010 World Cup???

According to a survey, -- the Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) released by Statistics SA on Tuesday, 79 000 jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2010 in the formal non-agricultural sector. This figure is on top of the loss of 870 000 jobs last year. Click here for more details.

In the light the above, it really concerns me how people who are already earning a reasonably comfortable income, stil have the nerve to revert to intimidating, hostile, and sometimes violent behaviour, simply because they are not happy with their wages.

By the looks of things it appears that an Eskom strike during the FIFA World Cup is a definite possibility, but this does not bother me in the least, as a can quite happily continue living my life without electricity. In fact, it is one of the things that I love most about Africa!

What does get me worked up though, is when you arrive at the doorsteps of your local pharmacy, situated in the middle of a vibrant but yet reasonably safe and peaceful neighbourhood in Faerie Glen, to find that the place has been burned down. I am not talking about a small little chemist-shop here, but a large store that employs close to 200 individuals, and which serves the greater part of the “affluent” eastern region of Pretoria.

Pretoria Dischem Pharmacy torched
23 June 2010
By Mia Lindeque

Dischem employees allegedly sabotaged the Faerie Glen store in Hans Strydom Road last night after weeks of picketing for higher wages.

"It was deliberate - nothing was stolen and nothing was taken," says Johan Ochse, Dischem's group Human Resource manager. "The union has said that they will enhance their strike action and I think that is part of their way - that they unlawfully trying to force the company into bargaining with them."

Ochse said they were forced to close the shop due to the fire. "There are a lot of people that are served by that store and they have nowhere to go now. And we are talking about 183 employees that will now have to lose their jobs."

Ochse says the estimated damage is about R 20 million. "We got a court order that prohibits the union members from unlawfully striking or not adhering to the picketing rules."

Customers are advised to go to other Dischem branches or phone the helpline at 0800 201170. "We have a delivery service from our other stores to deliver any chronic or other prescription medicine to customers' homes," Ochse assured customers.

The police could not be reached for comment.


More striking news…

Strike at Unisa head office in Pretoria
23 June 2010

By Sapa

Hundreds of National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) members protested over wages outside the University of South Africa's (Unisa) head offices in Pretoria on Wednesday morning, the union said.

Nehawu declared a dispute after Unisa refused its demand of a 12 percent annual salary increment across the board. The university is offering 8.5 percent.

"The negotiations have been going on since the beginning of the year and we have tried every other trick in the book, but they are not prepared to move," said Nehawu spokesman Sizwe Pamla.

The protest, involving academic and support staff, started at 9am. The union was communicating with provincial leadership to ensure that the strike spread nation-wide on Thursday, said Pamla.

"They have told us that they will implement the 8.5 percent as of Friday, whether we agree or not. That is why we decided to embark on the strike."

Unisa spokesman Lehuma Ntuane said the university felt its offer was more than generous.

"This is our final offer. It is not only generous, but much higher than what other tertiary institutions have agreed on."

Bonuses and pay progression were not ordinarily paid at tertiary institutions and should be seen as an additional benefit for Unisa employees, Ntuane said.

"We do not only have the salary increments, but performance-related bonuses too. That makes our offer more than generous."


The new national strike anthem.
Click here to listen to the audio,
brought to you by Jacaranda FM (Pretoria)

It really is amusingly striking, – trust me!


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