There are (at last) encouraging signs of unity among the mine managers/owners and some hope that they’ll put their collective foot down and tough out the consequences. But if they blink first, then what? Well, there are about 50 million people in our country. Among them, surely one or more determined adults could be identified and elevated to a sufficiently strong political position to call the bluff of our union leaders and their uncomprehending members? If we can’t do this then there is a highly probable risk of our economy imploding. And if that happens, where would our fat cats invest their money?
We are dangerously close to chasing away our mine owners, and with them would go a very considerable support industry which presently survives on the core business of equipment and materials for mining. Similarly, the labour costs of our motor industry, together with its rising unreliability to deliver, could soon cause its owners to pull out, and it wouldn’t be the first time that a production line is uprooted and taken to another location.
There is also an urgent need to look at what miners and other labouring groups do with their wages. If they hock most of it to moneylenders so that they can buy appliances and smart clothes, then I’m not willing to listen to their “demands” for more money (why do they always aggressively “demand” instead of just presenting a well-argued request for consideration?)
I do not believe that even the most unschooled man cannot understand that what he borrows to spend on a television set may well be at the expense of food for his family (and whose fault is it that he has five or more children when he can’t afford to care adequately for even one?) Similarly, I know a handyman who complains bitterly that he can’t make enough money to have his sick-sounding car fixed, and I wonder how he managed to pay for its mag wheels and extravagant sound system. His apparently unemployed son has an iPhone and an expensive-looking watch.
It is wrong that frugal people in our high-potential country should suffer the consequences of financial stupidity or the recklessness of, especially, organised labour. One is, of course, sympathetic towards the non-unionised unemployed. In fact, a lot more actively sympathetic than are the union leaders and their herds. But for people who do have a job, what they spend must be cut to what they can afford. They should simply forego spending R60 a shot on lusciously unhealthy pizzas and five or more rands a can on a fizzy sugar drink. For R60, my wife and I can eat satisfactorily for four days – and we have to, we’re old and trying to eke out what once looked like ample savings.
We could usefully take heed of the observation by an unnamed author that: “The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.” The context was the unaffordable largesse of a welfare state. There is a parallel situation in South Africa.
Newlands, Cape Town
Petrol attendants are the losers in strikes
Retailers in the service station industry are also expecting strikes to be called by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa). Sadly, it will be the attendants who will suffer, not the union bosses.
It is often overlooked that a good petrol attendant, and I am fortunate to have many, can supplement his salary substantially by giving good service such as cleaning windscreens, checking oil, and so on.
The really sad fact is that the majority of attendants are grateful to have a job with a regular income, overtime, bonuses, and all this falls away when the fat cat union bosses call for strikes without having to suffer financially themselves.
Slowly and surely our country is getting dragged down into the toilet by the unions.
Bulwer Park Service Station
Blame producers for rising chicken prices
For some months we have been telling all who would listen that if high import tariffs on chicken as requested by local poultry producers are introduced, the consumer would be paying anything from 30 percent to 50 percent more for chicken at the tills. Much of our concern for the welfare of the poor and, indeed, for the future of the wider chicken industry in South Africa, has been reported on the pages of Business Report.
These predictions have been vehemently denied by the SA Poultry Association and its spokespeople, while arrogantly scoffing at and mocking our warnings.
Well, the abuse of consumers has begun. Even before any final pronouncements by the government on the fate of chicken duties, prices at retail level have already risen, in many cases by between 25 percent and 30 percent. This is nothing less than exploitation of embattled and impoverished consumers.
One shudders to think what additional increases will be imposed if large increases in import duties are granted by the authorities. Will chicken, the most widely consumed meat protein in the country, become a victim of a combination of greed and incompetence, with the losers being those who need it the most?
Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Now, I refer to your report “Cheap imports, rising costs distress local chicken industry”(Business Report, August 29).
We have dealt with the totally dishonest manipulation of statistics representing the true size and effects of chicken imports into the country in a previous submission to you, which we hope you will find important enough to publish in order to give your reporting of this issue some balance and perspective. Suffice it to say that imports of comparable products represent 10 percent of local production, hardly a colossus in the making, and brining of local chicken at an annual rate of 500 million litres (that is a figure as quoted from a statement by Kevin Lovell, the chief executive of the SA Poultry Association), is a really frightening statistic.
We would, however, like to address the statement by Lovell that chicken imports represent “waste”. Not only is this statement incorrect, it represents nothing more than a blatant lie in an attempt to win favour for the frantic pleas for government protection in an industry in which the local flawed poultry business models cannot compete with efficient overseas producers.
We are happy to issue an open invitation to you, to experts of your choice, and your readers to come along and compare high-quality imported chicken with its local highly brined inferior product.
With the knowledge that local chicken, in its highly botoxed state, engorged and unappetising in appearance, you will see where the real waste is.
Sadly, the consumer is being asked to pay for a vexatious and inflationary duty application by Sapa which, if accepted, will further impoverish the embattled poorer sections of our community.
Chief executive, Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA