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Letters from our readers 1987 No 2

Dear Learn and Teach, I work as a labourer for a building firm. In November last year I was hurt at work. A pipe fell on my foot and it broke a bone. I stayed in hospital for a week. But then I had to walk with a stick for seven weeks. The problem is that my foot is still painful. Now I do not enjoy playing soccer. And I am worried because this job is temporary. Sizwe Blaauw BONGOLETHU

Thank you for your letter. We were sorry to hear about your accident. Were you paid while you were not working? If you are hurt at work, you can get money from Workmen’s Compensation. You can claim even if your job is temporary. If you were not paid while you were off work, you can still get money from Workmen’s Compensation. The Industrial Aid Society will help you to get it. Speak to Martin Monyela. Tell him you are the person sent by Learn and Teach. Their address is: Camperdown Building 99 Polly Street (corner Kerk) Johannesburg 2001 Tel: (011) 23-8229 A broken foot can take a long time to get better. Some people have pain for months, or even years, after breaking a bone. Sometimes exercises help to make the bones and muscles strong again. A special nurse called a physiotherapist can tell you how to do these exercises. Most big hospitals have physiotherapists. Maybe you must go back to the hospital where you were treated.

Dear Learn and Teach, We are happy to tell you that the bosses at Naschem have agreed to our union’s demand for stop orders. Now it is up to us employees to make the Chemical Workers Industrial Union strong. Phambili ngomzabalazo! Travolta Mosioa SEBOKENG PS Would any reader like to sell me their copy of Learn and Teach No 1, 1986? I will pay R2 for it.

Travolta, thanks for telling us about your success at work. We hope your union grows and becomes strong. Oh, by the way, we can send you a copy of Leam and Teach No 1 -and it will only cost you 40 cents.

Dear Learn and Teach, Where can I find a lawyer in Johannesburg? I also want to sell your magazine. I know that people sell it but I don’t know where to get it. P Sithole INDUSTRIA

Thank you for your letter. We will send you magazines to sell. And you can see a lawyer at this place: Campus Law Clinic Wits University Room 123, Faculty of Law Building West Campus Showground Road Braamfontein 2001 Tel: (011) 716-5644 or 716-5645 The law clinic is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8,30 to 12,30. Anyone who does not have money to pay a lawyer can go to the clinic. There is no charge.

Dear Learn and Teach, I want to know more about labour and safety rules. My younger brother is eleven years old. He lives on a farm in the Orange Free State with my parents. Every day, after school, he must work. He feeds the pigs, herds sheep and takes water to the cattle in the veld. One day he fell off a truck which was carrying drums of water. He broke his back and his leg. He went to a hospital 45 km away. My mother had no transport to visit him so far away. When he returned, the farmer did not pay anything to my family. He said the child was stupid and silly. Where can I make a claim against this man? Matiki Mofokeng SEBOKENG

Thank you for your letter. We are very sad to hear about your brother’s accident. And we are sorry to tell you that farm workers are not protected by most labour and safety rules. They are for workers in factories, shops and offices. But it is against the law to make children work for you. Your brother is much too young to be working. We all know that in South Africa, many farmers break the law and force children to work for them. If you want to claim money from this farmer, you must take him to court. Court cases take a long time and they cost a lot of money. If you want help to make a claim against the farmer, the Industrial Aid Society will help you. Write, or visit or phone the IAS (We gave the address in Sizwe Blaauw’s letter) and speak to Martin Monyela. He is helping another young boy who was also hurt on a farm. Good luck!

Dear Learn and Teach I want to write to Stevie Wonder. I have his address in America. But I do not know how much the stamps to America cost. And I do not know how long my letter will take to get there. M Khumalo KATLEHONG

You can send your letter to Stevie with a 40 cent stamp. It will probably take about one week to get to America.

Dear Learn and Teach I think that you can help us to learn about workers’ rights. We want books about rules for employers and workers. We need to understand about wages. We are farm workers. We tried to join a union. Our company said that farm workers cannot join unions. We are angry. We see our brothers and sisters losing their jobs. We know that tomorrow we could lose our jobs. We also want to know if the law says a person with Std 6 can be paid more than a person with Std 8 or Std 10. Dennis RUST DE WINTER

Thank you for your letter, Dennis. Your company is lying to you. Farm workers can join trade unions. But for many years there were no trade unions for farm workers. Today there are unions which fight for farm workers. Their job is difficult because there are not many laws to protect farm workers. Factory workers are better off. They have more laws to protect them. For example, there are laws about how many hours factory workers can work. There are laws about how much they must be paid, how much overtime they can work and what sick leave they can take. Farm workers do not have laws like these. In No. 1 1987 of Learn and Teach, we wrote about farm workers rights and unions. If you did not get the magazine, write to us and we’ll send it to you.

Dear Learn and Teach I am writing this letter about the year 1986. I sell Learn and Teach here in Cape Town. I want to talk about the people who buy the magazine from me. People enjoy reading the magazine. But some don’t understand English. Some people suggest we print the magazine in Xhosa too. There must be no difference in the stories. I want you to answer the following questions: 1. What is Learn and Teach? 2. What is the aim of Learn and Teach? 3. When did it start? 4. Why did it start? These are the questions I am asked time and again when I sell the magazine in the townships. Sibongile Mbotywe NYANGA EAST

Thank you for your letter, Sibongile. We are sure many readers and sellers want to know the answers to your questions. We will try to answer them. Firstly, we started Learn and Teach magazine five years ago, in 1981. At that time, the magazine was part of the Learn and Teach literacy organisation, which teaches people to read and write. We started the magazine for people who were learning English. And we tried to write interesting and helpful stories. We know many people do not understand the newspapers and other magazines because the English is too difficult. Also, other magazines do not write about workers’ lives and people’s struggles. We also print the magazine in English because more people understand English. If we printed in Xhosa, people who speak Sotho or Tswana would not understand. Maybe one day we will write in other languages. In the meantime, we try to write in easy English so more people will understand. We hope that we have answered your questions. Maybe other readers will write and tell us what they think of Learn and Teach, and what they want to see in the magazine.

Dear Learn and Teach, We work at a mill in Piet Retief. We are members of the Paper, Wood and Alllied Workers Union (PWAWU). We have lots of problems here. Workers are fired almost every month. Workers who have accidents are sent home without their Workmen’s Compensation money. We were promised a bus but we did not get one. Instead, we travel on a tractor trailer with a torn cover. When it rains, we get wet. Women on maternity leave are not paid while they are still looking after their babies. We want Learn and Teach to tell us about maternity benefits. Can you give us this information? Worried Worker PIET RETIEF

Thank you for your letter. We are happy that you are working with PWAWU. We hope that you will get better working conditions. We want to do a long story about maternity benefits. Some unions, like the Chemical Workers Industrial Union (CWIU) and the Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (CCAWUSA) have won good maternity agreements. We also want to visit Piet Retief to hear more about your work and the members of PWAWU. Maybe you will invite us to come to visit you?

Dear Learn and Teach I once read in Learn and Teach about the history of reggae music and about Jamaica. Now I want you to write a magazine about Bob Marley. I want to know about his life story and about his band, the Wailers. Samuel Mposi ELIM HOSPITAL

Thank you for your letter, Samuel. We can’t write a whole magazine about Marley, because we have so many other things to write about. There is a book called ‘Bob Marley- the biography’ by Stephen Davis. It was published in 1984 by Granada. You can order this book by post from: The Children’s Bookshop P.O. Box52493 Saxonwold Johannesburg 2123 Tel: (011) 788-5313 Write to order the book. They will write back to tell you how much it will cost, including postage. They will also tell you how long it will take to send you the book. Send the full amount in postal orders by registered mail. They will send the book after they get your postal orders. **Anybody can order any book from this bookshop. If they do not have it in stock, they will order it for you. Some books come from overseas, so they take a long time to come. Sometimes you must wait three months or longer for your book to arrive.

Dear Learn and Teach I am a boy of 14 years. I feel very strongly about the bad things that happen in this country. I have written letters to newspapers. I have also written a number of freedom songs. I feel that I can help in the struggle for freedom in this country. However, because I am white and I live in a white area, I know very little about organisations like the UDF. Can you tell me about any organisations that I can join. Or can you tell me how I can help in the struggle? Saul JOHANNESBURG PS I know that many black children of my age are in the struggle. Perhaps Learn and Teach will do an article about these teenagers.

Thank you for your letter, Saul. We read it out at our meeting and it gave us all a nice feeling. We don’t know if we can help you, but we would like to have a chat. Come in to see us at the office one afternoon after school. Meanwhile, send us some of your freedom songs and we will put them in the magazine. ** Any readers who want to write to Saul can send their letters to us at Learn and Teach and we’ll pass them on.

Dear Learn and Teach, My family lives in Moutse. We want to know about how to buy a house in a township. Can we own a house in a township? We want to live in the Vaal Triangle or Soshanguve. My father works in Pretoria. Can he get a house, or at least a plot, in Soshanguve? How much is a plot? How can we apply for a house or a plot? Worried Son MOUTSE

Thank you for your letter. We gave it to the people who are writing a book about housing for Learn and Teach. They will write to you at home to answer your questions. **Other readers with housing questions can also write to us. Write ‘Housing Project’ on your letter.

Dear Learn and Teach, Greetings to all organisations fighting for freedom. My problem is that I cannot get an identity book. When I applied, the clerk told me to bring my birth certificate. But I do not have a birth certificate. My mother is alive but my father passed away in 1978. He worked so hard for the boers. He used to come home and go straight to bed because he was so tired. Now when I look for work, I can’t get a job because I do not have a birth certificate. Frustrated SEBOKENG

You can get a birth certificate, even if you were not born in a hospital or clinic. You must make an affidavit (a signed statement stamped by a Commissioner of Oaths). The affidavit must say who you are, when and where you were born and who your parents are. Two people who know you well and who know when and where you were born, must also make affidavits. We think the best place to help you get a birth certificate is the Black Sash Advice Office, Khotso House, 42 De Villiers Street, Johannesburg. The Black Sash will help you make the affidavits and ask for your birth certificate. They will also help you to get your identity book. Don’t lose hope – this might all take a long time. But in the end you will have an identity book and you will be able to look a job.

Dear Learn and Teach I like your magazine because it helps many people in our country. I think you will also help me. I am 22 years old. My problem is that I got a sexual disease in 1984. Since that time I cannot keep my girlfriends because I am weak in sex. Now I want to find a special doctor. I want to get married this year. I think I will not have children if I marry with this sickness. Worried Man SOWETO

Thank you for your letter. There is a special clinic in Johannesburg for venereal diseases (VD) – the diseases which you get through sexual contact. The clinic is run by the City Health Department. All the treatment is free. The address is: Voortrekker Building, corner Hoek and De Villiers Streets, Johannesburp (near Park Station) Tel: (011) 29-5241 The clinic is open from 7.30 to 9.30 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. It is closed on Thursdays.

Dear Learn and Teach, I am a married woman. I am 28 years old. I am confused about income tax. I did not know what to do with the tax certificate I got when I left my last job. Now friends tell me I must claim money back from Income Tax because my husband does not work. Thandi SOWETO

Thank you for your letter, Thandi. From the information you gave us, we cannot tell you if you will get a refund. But if you want to find out, you can write to, or visit, the Receiver of Revenue, Rissik Street (corner Albert Street), Johannesburg or telephone (011) 833-0511. Speak to the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) enquiries office.


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