Here is a sad fact, did you know that artisans or rather people who work with their hands in so called blue collar
jobs are significantly starting to make more money than us who are educated and degree’d. Ask any lady she can tell you that often she has to book her hair appointment in advance, pays an average of r350 for the style and on the day she goes there are ten other people waiting in the salon to be done by the same person. That means, let’s be conservative, on average a woman who works in a hair salon makes r2000 a day tax free. That’s 60000 a month if she worked every day for 30 days. Both your parents are lucky if they jointly bring home 40k a month in working for government or even private. In my suburb the plumbers are white and charge around 450 per blockage or maintenance thing… It’s his company and often he employs a black person who practically does all the work. So wait, a plumber can employ other people and we barely struggle to pay the lady who helps at home with your baby. That’s food for thought.
“Did you say I must not work for 3 months?”
I asked him stunned by this guy’s arrogance.
“Yes conflict of interest. Your new post made you privilege to some information that could hurt the company’s business. There is a clause in your contract that therefore prevents you from being in this field for a period of not less than 3 months!”
You are telling me not to work are you mad?”
I asked him. I could even a vein starting to pop on my forehead. I was so angry. How could he offer me so little and expect me to grateful?
“That’s insulting and you know it. We would rather go to court and risk losing if that’s the case.”
Nthabiseng said bringing clam back to the room.
“We think it’s more than fair. She was on a new contract but because she did not even a month on it we are paying this assuming that it was the old. That to us makes four months worth of severance!”
He said. My mouth dropped on the floor.
“Did you know that 39% of black graduates are unemployed and only 8% of whites of an employable age are not!”
She said dropping a statistic out of nowhere.
He asked her.
“So when do you think she will get a job? Where?”
He asked her.
“I think you are over reaching here now. It’s not our problem go talk to your government!”
He argued. It was now our black government when just last week they were matching saying it was everyone’s government. Nthabiseng did not lose her cool though.
“It’s a good thing that the offer of her new employment was done through this office and we went through it before she accepted!”
Nthabiseng told him as she took out a copy of my contract. Nice. She came prepared.
“You guys have government contracts right?”
She asked him.
“What does that have to do with this?”
He asked her.
“Everything. You see I will play open cards with you, we have every intention of contesting this and we are willing to go and ask our friends for help. We have reason to believe that your company has been playing white workers in same posts as black people significantly more. Private company or not that’s illegal and I can assure you that every person of colour who works for you will gladly join this lawsuit!”
She said. Wait? How did she know all this though? I never before told her that because much as I suspected that the whites earned more I did not know that.
“Well that would mean getting hold of our records!”
He said smugly.
“And besides white companies are not corrupt so no one will believe you! We not the government!”
He said with a wry smile again making that analogy to the government.
“For the record we already have the records. Here is a copy and it actually came through your company AGM meeting making it public record and here is a copy of your company records from the CFOs office!”
She told him and presented them in front of him and me. Even I did not know that there had been such a meeting. Ok I did but you know how black people don’t really care when their company says AGM or posts its results. It’s not because we are ignorant but because all shareholders who stand to benefit are white and we have to be content with our wage. What she on to though.
“I see you have done your homework but we will be ready for you!”
He said now attempting to stand up. She had rattled his cage that’s for sure. I don’t think he thought this ‘darkie’ would have done this much research on his client.
“It’s alright. You can leave. We had initially intended to get about r3million out of you guys but after all this came out plus the new contract you think you can weasel out of,”
She laughed and paused before saying,
“We are suing for r7million and we have the full backing of this firm plus the friends I mentioned. That will be full compensatory pay plus damages.”
She said. I felt so lost now.
“R7million are you crazy?”
He asked shocked and even angry.
“I think you not listening. You don’t know the friends we have that is the problem for you but please you do what is best for your client. It’s ok go run to your client and tell her exactly what we said. They will know how not to treat a single black woman with a gravely ill mother when public sympathy kicks in through a very loud friend!”
She said again not revealing who the friend was.
“See you in court then!”
“I pray so. I really pray that it happens!”
She told him as he walked himself out. I was lost. When did we come to r7million? This was not the other figure we had discussed before I am certain of it.
“Nthabiseng what’s going on?”
I asked her bewildered.
“Take a moment and digest this, only 2.9 percent of commercial agricultural land in the Free State is black owned. Less than 10% of the JSE is directly black owned”
She told me.
“I don’t understand, what does that got to do with me?”
She was acting weird.
“I read a report that said 40 000 white families own 80% of all farmable land in South Africa. It was disputed by Mail and Guardian of course; I mean they dispute anything that paints white people as greedy, abusive, liars, thieves etc you get the point!”
“But what does that have to do with this Nthabiseng? Are we not putting the case at risk by asking for so much and who the hell is your friend?”
I asked panicking and a bit angry that she had not consulted me. I think that white guy would have negotiated.
“It has everything to do with the case. Your company is incredibly wealthy. I know there is a renewal contract your company is after from the Department of Health so they cannot afford to have bad publicity. That’s our starting point. Remember the day when you got arrested and I could not pick up my phone, I had kind of a date or rather I was spare wheel on a date.”
She explained. I promise you I am just as confused as the next person.
“Ok go on!”
I asked her.
“The two guys we went out with as I was not alone are from the EFF and high posts at that. However that is not our ace in the hole, I have not given him everything because he left too early.
She took out two more documents.
“Lungi can you read the two highlighted parts please?”
She asked me.
“Ok, one the first record, the one written from the company CFO my salary is r660 000 before tax annually.”
I told her.
“What does it say on the AGM report?”
She asked me.
“It says r888 000 before tax! I don’t understand I …”
It took a second to register and even then maybe it was because I had already had a long day it did not immediately click.
“Lungi how much money do you earn every year before tax? It’s on the pay slip?”
She asked me. So much was going through my mind right now because all this numbers were not adding up at all. What had I missed?
“Lungi on this contract that you signed it says that the company is paying you r560000”
She said and kept quiet for a moment just to make me realize what was really going on.
“They have been short paying you and have been reporting it to their board as full pay. They have been falsifying their data which is very illegal. We even have more friends on our side, SARS.”
She said with a huge smile on her face.
She stood up and held her waist to savour the moment.
“Crap you are right!”
I told her. My knowledge of law was limited I accept but she made sense. It was the numbers I had read represented 3 different people.
“So what do we do now?”
“He will call back by the end of business day today. His client will panic. I will settle at r5million and that I can assure you will be today!”
She said so confidently. I was not as confident but I did say things were looking for me lately.
As I drove out of her office I was not even sure whether to be happy or not. I think the fight in me was dying down with all that was happening. I was tired even before the battle started. I tried again to call Sfiso, remember he had blocked me and guess what, it rang!
He said when he picked up.
I did not know what to say.
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Thank you for the blogs.
I am a 16 year old girl and two of my friends one is my age and the other is 15 are both pregnant. I am not sexually active yet and the reason for me writing is that we have been discussing whether they should abort or not. We all from the township and the 15 year old is very smart school wise. She even jumped a grade that’s why she is young in our class. Both their parents are strict and I think only the 15 year will get support the 16 year old will probably be sent to a village if their parents find out. They won’t allow me to ask adults for advice and you Mr. Maphoto are the only adult I think I can open up to. I am scared for them and am scared for me too because I know my parents will blame me for their mistakes if they find out. My father is unreasonable it will be like I am the one who got pregnant. I know it sounds weird but my father once beat up my older sister (she is 18) because he saw her best friend standing with a boy kissing.
Please help me advise my friends or tell us where to go, we from Welkom to seek advice.