Tuesday, September 18, 2007

2007. Post Apartheid SA Dispatch and NZ Immigrant Hassles, 1997

< 1997. Esslemonts' Snow Bear near Arthurs Pass.

June 1997. Alleman's dispatch: "SAA made R240 million profit 2 years ago. Now making a million Rand loss per day. Economy dived the first three months this year.

Killing continues. Phoned my son, warning him not to use the N2 between Pinelands and Somerset West, as plakkers were placing rocks on the freeway, then attacking motorists. Exhumation businesses starting up - Greeks and Italians emigrate their forefather's bones. Jo'burg has 100 exhumations a week. 'Orange' was removed from the 'Free State.' 'Vrystaat' also removed. Now we're only the 'Free State' - although about 7% of Free Staters' home language is English.

Blacks fetching water in rural areas are killed by brain-sucking water -monsters. At our local black high school, most teachers are striking today. Three white teachers and remaining black teachers tried to organize pupils writing exams. The principal, appointed in January, also striking, is promoted to schools' inspector. Maybe the new coloured principal will be better."

Employment relations at the bakery included bad policy communication and authoritarian management. Crumbles had worked at the bakery for ten years, and he and Spanner bossed workers with conflicting orders - bad for morale. When Spanner and Crumbles went on holidays, production led by Marti was happier.

I disliked Crumbles as he drove the warehouse forklift like a maniac, and sometimes called Wang a, "li'l monkey" behind Wang's back. Crumbles harassed workers by poking his finger in their backs. Tired workers didn't respond. Crumbles started poking me when walking past me. One day, while I operated the pallet-wrapper, Crumbles cuffed my head. "Why'd you hit me?" I yelled. "I don't hit you!" As Wang was about, Crumbles apologized, but Katipo and Spanner later poked me in my back, grinning like idiots.

Some Christchurch racist incidents during our residence: "Go home Asian!" taunts near the Anglican Cathedral; Nigerian man mugged by skinheads on Sumner Esplanade; Rocks thrown at Somali refugees' homes; SA rugger-bugger sent home for calling a pub lady, "Kaffir!" Sikh immigrant barred entrance to the same pub, as he wore a turban; Asian businesses harassed by rednecks; Asian students mugged or sworn at in the CBD; Graffiti on walls - "White Power... KKK... Asian Invasion;" Korean customers ignored by Pakeha restaurant staff; Afrikaners slagging off restaurant staff in Afrikaans in the Gondola Restaurant, not knowing a Rhodie waitress understood their racist hate-taal; Mozambiquan refugee beaten to death in Latimer Square; Drive-by gangster shoot-out; Neo-Nazi flag on a Lincoln Road gangster property; White whore strangled by a Durban coloured migrant. One Christmas day, I grabbed Luke away from a window -display in Cashell Mall, when a gangster slouched by sneering, "I'm Black Power!"

Immigrant doctors and engineers were dumbed down and on the dole. Luke's Taiwanese friend's father couldn't get doctor work. To doctor in NZ, he had to rewrite medical exams and register as a Kiwi doctor. He worked in Taiwan, leaving his family in Christchurch, and saw his family during holidays, so NZ got his family and foreign -earned money. Critics complained that Taiwanese and other Asians sent their kids to NZ for cheap education. So what? Foreign students paid high fees, more than Kiwis or Asian residents, and educators had jobs.

An unemployed Taiwanese heart-surgeon told us he knew Taiwanese immigrant doctors, paying exam and registration fees, who couldn't find NZ work. (Immigrant doctors before 1995 were allowed NZ residence without confirmed job offers before residence permission). The heart-surgeon passed the registration English exam, but failed a hospital knowledge test, as he was forbidden to do volunteer work in hospitals. "Asian doctors will lower NZ medical standards," he was told by a Christchurch Quack. Yet nurses prescribed medicines in hard-to-staff rural clinics. After three years, and becoming NZ citizens, Taiwanese doctor families we knew returned to Taiwan. Meanwhile SA anaesthetists trekked from SA to locum in hard-to-staff Greymouth and Whakatane surgeries.

Before the 1999 election, a scheme was mooted whereby immigrant doctors would be assisted with registration, provided they worked in rural areas. It begged questions: Why didn't Kiwi Quacks clamour to work in rural areas? Why were other unemployed immigrant professionals' work needs ignored? In 2000, another scheme: Limited intake of foreign doctors (only if resident before 1995) could retrain in NZ. Thus competent Taiwanese doctors paid their immigrant costs, like us, then had to live professionally unemployed in NZ for 5 or more years, like us, then were told they must retrain.

A Taiwanese economics teacher we knew couldn't find NZ work. He did a computer course and re-emigrated to Australia. We met Taiwanese and South Korean families who visited NZ after China or North Korea threatened. Their children were placed in NZ schools to learn English, and see if they integrated. Emigration for them was a long-term project. Thousands of Kiwis emigrated annually, and NZ immigration policy replaced Kiwi emigrants with moneyed, skilled immigrants.

SA's apartheid migrant-labour system parallelled the NZ labour market we found: second class residents, like us; unemployment, like us; under-employment, like us; working poor (one parent's wage wasn't enough to support the family, so the family was also on the dole, like us); hourly pay, like us; low pay, like us; long hours, like us; few hours, like us; weak unions; shift work, like us; seasonal work, like us; few job perks, like us; hazardous work, like us; employers use of employees' chattels without recompense, like use of own cars and home computers for work, like ours'; no pay for meetings, lunch hour, work preparation at home, like us; both spouses working, supporting a family, like us; separation of family members for long periods, (we avoided that); job agencies' and employers' exploitation of refugee / immigrant labour, like ours'; teenager workers, like Jake.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See "The Militant" 1996 Article on Winston Peter's Views on Asian Immigration.

1 comment:

Mark JS Esslemont said...

Email from an expat living in NZ describing his last days working in Ciskei:

"... and I go back to 1981 ... and worked together through to 1995, when he returned to [UK}, after 25 or so years in Southern Africa, including stints in Rhodesia and Botswana. ... are keen birders and created a bird lover's oasis in the dry Fish River valley near Committee's Drift ... he worked as the business manager / scheme accountant at Tyefu Irrigation Scheme in what was then the Ciskei and produced eight or nine issues of a 'magazine' titled Playbooi. ... with his typical Yorkshire humour, while Rome was burning around us, pulled out his satirical pen and created these wonderful stories about our organisation but told as though it was a nursery rhyme or fairy tale ... most were fairy Grimm (Freudian slips). I or a colleague would then duplicate what was approximately a fortnightly 'mag' and distribute clandestinely to mostly white middle management ... all ten of us.

It became like Lion Magazine or the Sunday Times comics, where you couldn't wait to see what had become of Archie the Robot or what had happened to Prince Valiant. It also allowed us to reflect on what we were becoming ... sucking the last bits of blood from an already dead animal and not realizing that we had actually contributed to its death, either by condoning what had happened along the way, or, even aiding and abetting its demise. But hey, it was a gravy train of some magnitude and we all wore golden handcuffs and like in Hotel California, once we had entered, we couldn't leave. I did manage to jump off as it went through a station and ... did likewise the year before and the train eventually derailed in July of 1997. Some of those who were still on board are still trying to get their pensions paid out from a fund which never had money put into it. ... and I are very glad that we managed to find those stations prior to the final stop. ..."