Steve on Sunday
22 November 2020
Greetings my fellow ancients and not-so ancients,
So much to comment on these days with the state of the Republic being what it is. There is the plague of course, and being a specialist on epidemics I think it is worthwhile muttering once again, you know, at least once every four months. This will be next week as am waiting on certain stats. Another story probably for next week is that of the great soldiers of MK, the former ‘fighting wing’ of the ANC when it was a banned organisation during the apartheid era. The reason is that this last week or so some of them have started calling themselves veterans of the liberation war – this instead of the generally accepted liberation struggle. Just need to check and see where this war actually was and who was engaged in the battles. Or battle. Or skirmish. Or engagement.
I would also like to discuss the word ‘black’ and how it gets used today in comparison to a few decades ago. More research necessary.
So perhaps, as I am elderly, must stick to the weather. Much easier to write about.
The rain of the last few weeks in Kimberley has been most welcome, as have the cooler temperatures. It is certain that while many people (and animals) were enjoying the rain, others were not, particularly those whose homes were not built to withstand rain other than a passing shower.
As I write yet another storm is passing over and there are several more forecast throughout the weekend. It is quite possible that I shall not have my usual second hand book selling stall today (Saturday) as it stands in the open under the elements.
While driving around a few days ago in a storm – I am good at that – I noticed that there were but very few municipal workers working in the rain. I do not blame them, and the few I did see were all huddled together under some trees at the municipal complex.
This is probably because they did not have raincoats.
Raincoats are extremely important as it enables workers, used to toiling away in the sun, the opportunity to continue working in what may well be described as sublime conditions here on the fringe of the Kalahari.
Which brings to mind another story from my past. Lots of stories from there but have very few relating to the future. Sorry. Would love to know the Lotto numbers for example. Never do win the Lotto, not even a small amount, but I suppose to even stand a chance I should have a ticket in the draw.
Back to the rain…
In the late 1980s, early 1990s, I had the pleasure of working as the manager of the Kimberley Golf Club. It was a most enjoyable job but did require a bit of work, which was fine. It was an unsettling period throughout the country and times were a-changing rather rapidly. One of the many big changes was that the masses became politicised more than ever before, and this was implemented through the myriad and various trade unions gaining tens of thousands of new members.
This of course included all the course and club workers at the Kimberley golf club who seriously enjoyed taking time off to attend the, oh so many meetings. I had no problems with the trade unions or the trade union movement, after all, I had been the printer’s union representative at the Umtali Post and at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley.
Structures at the golf club had been organised, and all was going very well although I may add that the workers had not been too keen initially with the monthly union deductions. There is no doubt that they had complained, as even members of the print union had complained about their deductions in my time.
I am waffling a bit, so it’s time to get to the crux of this story.
It had rained for some days in Kimberley during April 1991 and on my regular inspections around the golf course it was noticeable that the workers were sheltering out of the rain, which was fine as it was only hard core golfers that played in such conditions anyway.
The agreement with the worker’s union was that regular meetings would be held, but only with the recognised shop steward and one other, the time to be arranged beforehand. So it was quite a surprise to see the entire work force standing outside the office the one rainy day, naturally under the roofed passageway, all wishing to speak to me.
As per agreement, their shop steward and one other eventually had their meeting with me, the rest standing outside the office. It is possible that they wished to get the benefits of the shop steward (and one other) during meetings as there would always be coffee and a small plate of sandwiches.
After the initial pleasantries, the shop steward came to the point. The work force demanded – unions always demand, not request, remember – that they be issued with raincoats. It was their only demand.
I agreed with them and asked them to get me the measurements of the personnel and I guaranteed that they would have raincoats within 24 hours of receiving said measurements and numbers therefore. I think they were extremely surprised that I had agreed. Times were tough for golf clubs then, as they are now. And remember, it only rains occasionally in Kimberley except every ten years or so when there are floods.
While they recovered from my surprise agreement, I also advised them that since the golf club was going to get them raincoats, they would then, naturally, have to work in the rain. After all, that must be the reason they wanted the raincoats. I said that I was very pleased that they were showing such keenness to continue work when it rained.
They were quite shocked at my comments, and requested an immediate meeting with their fellow unionists who were still outside waiting patiently. I said it was quite fine, they can have their meeting.
The meeting did not last long and when the shop steward (and one other) returned into my office the workers had already dispersed.
I politely enquired as to the outcome of their meeting.
The shop steward (and one other) were quiet for a short time, and then the steward spoke.
It was unanimous, he said – the workers had withdrawn their demand. They did not want raincoats any more. They were quite happy to carry on working without the raincoats.
It was a good day – the rain carried on falling, and the golf course workers remained dry in the workshop.
Have a good Sunday and the rest of the week.
I thank you.