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Goodbye South Africa – We Will Miss You
It’s sad to say goodbye to a country that gave me a good life for many years, to all our friends and colleagues. But eventually I realised I had no choice.
I first came to South Africa as a young man on a backpacking holiday, keen to explore new places, discover new cultures, meet new friends. It’s true to say I fell in love with this country shortly after arriving.
After I finished learning my trade, I took a long break from the damp, cold weather of Yorkshire which I spent backpacking around Africa, and South Africa. I inquired about getting a job in this sunny, friendly land. The possibilities looked good. Skilled, qualified tradesmen were wanted in those days.
I went back home, worked for almost a year, but all the time I was thinking about South Africa.
I Decided to Move
It was easy in those days (early 1970’s) for a Brit to work in South Africa. I wrote to a few of the people I’d met before, and was offered a job! So, there and then I decided.
Marriage and Citizenship
My first employer was in Cape Town, and this was where I met my wife, Jen. When we decided to marry, I decided to become a South African, and applied for citizenship. Eventually, I was granted this (it took a while). I was proud to call myself a South African.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.
Surely a Contractor Must Know the Job?
Wouldn’t you think a contractor, or a sub-contractor must know the work in order to be awarded a contract? Evidently this is not a requirement any more. How can a business award contracts, then hire someone else (who previously undertook the work) to instruct the new sub-contractors how to do it? Seems to me there’s something wrong with this equation.
To my mind, the contractor knows the work. He hires workers able to undertake the tasks, and instructs the workers how to do the job. Isn’t that the way it works. Apparently not. Sub-contractors get contracts without more than a very basic level of skill. I’ve had a welding team in the past month that may be OK to knock up a set of burglar bars or a braai stand, but have no idea how to run a weld for a pressure vessel. Hell, this so called contractor doesn’t even have an argon rig… they arrive on site with a couple of oil filled AC arc boxes – those kind you buy at Game or Makro.
I had a really unpleasant task this morning: Telling my crew I will be moving on to hopefully greener pastures.
It’s one thing to fire a worker for an infringement, another thing altogether to have to tell them they will be out of a job in the near future. Worse still when two of these guys have been part of a team for so many years.
It Could be Worse
Still it could be worse. They have about 4 months to find alternatives, and I have colleagues who I know will take on my long-term crewmen. Nor will they be left destitute, the two blokes who have been part of my crew for many years will have decent severance packages.
Thomas Plaaitjies could probably retire if he wanted to. Faisal is a darn good artisan, and learns fast too. The other two youngsters leave with good practical experience and on-the-job skills training.
I have worked in the industrial contracting sector for nigh on thirty years, first as an apprentice boiler maker and welder, later for myself as a subcontractor. The job has been good to me: I never expected to get rich, and definitely that is the case… but I have enjoyed the work, the camaraderie of fellow workers in this rough and tough industry…
I have had the opportunity to build a small succesful business, and have a core team of workers who are reliable mostly, some who have been with me a long time, one who has stayed through thick and thin since I started out for myself.
Times Changing, Time to Change
I work mainly for a few prime contractors, one of whom provides about 80% of my work. It’s been a good arrangement, they procure the work, manage part-time workers, and take care of much work I would otherwise have to do – and spending time negotiating for contracts is time out of earning a living.
Jen’s latest Desire – a Plot of Land
Standing on Jen’s Desire, a corner plot for sale in Cape St Francis, looking towards the bay. The plot is less than 10 minutes walk to the beach, and on the side of the hill. The hill gives protection from the raging South Westerly winds that storm through the area on what seems like a daily basis. Ah Jen, if only we didn’t have to work!
Yes, I’m back home. We got back a few hours ago after a weekend of hard fishing. Jen and I decided to stay over last night “because we could”, and have last day here in Cape St Francis. I would have liked to spend another day or 2, but I have to meet a client tomorrow. The things we have to do so we can fish!
I left home on Friday morning with an intention to update this blog daily. Instead I only churned out a single post on Saturday on the borrowed laptop. Since then I have been fishing almost continuously. I really am fortunate to be partnered to a woman who not only encourages me, she also enjoys joining in, even in the unpleasantly windy conditions these past few days.
Sunday was fair, weather wise. The wind dropped to a mere ‘strong breeze’, rather than the near gale blowing on Saturday, hence the hard hours of non-work. I have a few fishing stories to share over the next days as well as some more general subjects; not the least of which is Jen falling in love with a piece of land.
Right now though I’m thinking about the morning. The weather forecast is for light wind and partly sunny early on. I have quite a stock of fresh squid to try, and a few other things from Commercial Marine in St Francis Bay. My meeting is for late morning, so there will be ample time to ‘wet a line’. So I’m going to say goodnight, finish unpacking the bakkie, and get things sorted out, ready for an early start.
At last the evening arrives. No chance to fish today, only finished the daily grind and got home after 7pm.
Spent most of today around large industrial machinery. Filthy, dusty, and in real need of a shower. My crew had to replace a damaged boiler unit with a rebuilt unit. The engineer who inspected the old one decided it needed more work than could be done on site in the time permitted, as the plant wanted it back online as soon as possible. So out with the faulty unit, and the replacement boiler installed. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been reading WordPress blogs
like crazy for several weeks; fishing has been poor around here recently, and work is in the pre-shutdown slump. Mainly I have been looking for tips and information about web technology and such – and which has been written for those who like myself are computer users rather than technicians. I need to decide on several things before I get a web site built – what it should look like, things that need to be included, and above all who I will get to build the site. Read the rest of this entry »