and speaking of gems…

this is a really really good use of lawyers!

Finally, someone is sticking it to DeBeers. After all those years of exploiting miners and overcharging customers, people are at least realizing what Putzes they were to pay so much for diamonds. The really cool thing would be if all the people who win settlements decide to give their money to miners in Africa.

We didn’t visit any mining companies while we were there, but I was really curious to learn about diamond mining today, to see if it’s gotten any better. One source told me they have a strong union and earn at least minimum wage. But then, labor rights are strong all over South Africa now, not just in mining. The problem is, there aren’t enough jobs, because unions and BBBEE scare off all the MNC’s that normally come along and build factories in developing countries. South Africa has much higher minimum wages than most developing countries. Partly because it’s really quite developed, but also because they might not have been thinking about global competitiveness when apartheid ended and these laws were written.

The most heartbreaking thing I heard about mining was the prices the prostitutes charge, because there are so many women with few alternatives. 25cents with a condom, $2 without. And we’re not talking about some massive exchange rate like in Zimbabwe. Garment workers earn about $2 per hour in SA, so I’m sure miners earn more than that. How many times have any of us spent an hour’s wages, or less, on coffee? lunch? It kills me that these women are forced to devalue themselves so much, having to go for high volume to compensate for such horrendously low margins.