Advance Search

Up

Trade unionists

tu01. ‘Brother Lend a Hand’

The AAM produced this leaflet for British trade unionists in the early 1960s, when the former President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), Leon Levy, worked as its trade union officer. It asked workers to campaign for the isolation of apartheid South Africa and support the struggles of South African trade unionists.

 
tu02. South Africa Today

This leaflet stressed that the call for a boycott of South African goods in Britain was part of an international campaign by workers all over the world.

 
tu03. ‘Labour and South Africa’

After Labour won the general election in October 1964 it compromised on its commitment to end all arms sales to South Africa. This leaflet asked trade unionists to ensure that Labour carried out its pledge and to press it to impose economic sanctions against South Africa.

 
tu09. Brother Whose Side Are You On?

The AAM set up a Trade Union Action Group to work in the trade union movement in 1968. This leaflet highlighted the part played by British companies in exploiting black workers and asked British trade unionists to support workers in all the white-ruled Southern African countries.

 
tu41. 20 Men Digging a Ditch

The AAM produced this leaflet for British trade unionists in the early 1960s.

 
tu04. ‘Is This Justice?’

This leaflet was a direct appeal to British workers from the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). It asked them not to emigrate to South Africa and to press for disinvestment from British firms that operated there. From the early 1970s SACTU had an office and representative, John Gaetsewe, in Britain. In 1976 it set up a Liaison Committee to foster links with British trade unions. It worked closely with the AAM’s Trade Union Committee.

 
70s05. Kitson Committee march

In the early 1970s the Ruskin College Kitson Committee organised an annual march from Oxford to London over the Whitsun holiday. The group campaigned for the release of political prisoner David Kitson, a member of the trade union DATA, who was serving a 20-year sentence in South Africa. This leaflet publicising the march was printed just before the cancellation of the 1970 Springbok cricket tour.

 
pri15. Kitson Committee march

Trade unionists at Ruskin College, Oxford organised a march from Oxford to London in 1969 as part of their campaign for the release of former Ruskin student David Kitson. Kitson was sentenced to 20 years gaol in 1964 for organising sabotage in South Africa.

 
int11a. John Sheldon interview clip

John Sheldon was the General Secretary of the Public and Civil Service Union. As a student at Ruskin College, Oxford, he helped set up the Ruskin College Kitson Committee to campaign for the release of gaoled trade unionist David Kitson and took part in the demonstrations against the 1969–70 South African rugby tour.

In this clip John Sheldon describes his involvement in a plan to stop the first game of the South African rugby Springboks tour of Britain, against Oxford University on 5 November 1969.

 
int11t. John Sheldon transcript

John Sheldon was the General Secretary of the Public and Civil Service Union. As a student at Ruskin College, Oxford, he helped set up the Ruskin College Kitson Committee to campaign for the release of gaoled trade unionist David Kitson and took part in the demonstrations against the 1969–70 South African rugby tour.

This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out by Christabel Gurney in 2000.

 
pic7003. March for David Kitson, May 1970

In the early 1970s the Ruskin College Kitson Committee organised an annual march from Oxford to London over the Whitsun holiday. The group campaigned for the release of political prisoner and former trade unionist David Kitson, serving a 20-year sentence in South Africa. The 1970 march ended in a rally in Trafalgar Square at which trade union leaders asked workers to refuse to work on arms for South Africa.

 
tu05. TUC fringe meeting, 1970

Every year the AAM held a fringe meeting at TUC congress. The 1970 congress took place soon after the newly elected Conservative government announced it would resume arms sales to South Africa. The AAM worked with sympathetic unions to ensure that congress passed a resolution deploring the decision.

 
tu06. Declaration against arms sales to South Africa

This declaration was circulated at the 1970 TUC congress. It was signed by union leaders and rank and file delegates. Partly as a result of AAM pressure, congress passed a resolution deploring the government’s decision to resume arms sales to South Africa.

 
tu07. ‘Carr’s industrial bill is oppressive … ’

AAM supporters distributed this leaflet on a TUC demonstration against the UK Industrial Relations Bill introduced by Conservative Employment Minister Robert Carr in 1971.

 
tu08. ‘Stop Arms Sales’ Yorkshire conference

One of the first decisions of the Conservative government elected in June 1970 was to resume arms sales to South Africa. This leaflet advertised a regional conference on arms sales for trade unions, held in Leeds. Similar conferences took place in Swansea, Manchester, Edinburgh and Croydon, London. A Gallup poll showed that 71 per cent of the British public were opposed to arms sales. The only weapons sold to South Africa under the 1970–74 government were seven Wasp helicopters.

 
pic7301. ‘We demand recognition of African trade unions’

British trade unionists picketed South Africa House calling for the recognition of African trade unions on 15 February 1973. In 1973 a work stoppage at British company Metal Box’s South African subsidiary in Durban sparked a wave of strikes by thousands of African workers. The AAM asked British trade unions to show their solidarity.

 
pic7302. Solidarity with South African strikers

John Gaetsewe of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) outside South Africa House on 15 February 1973. With him are T P Callinan from the shopworkers union USDAW and Eddie Marsden from the construction workers union. Embassy officials rejected a letter signed by the general secretaries of 12 British unions condemning apartheid.

 
tu11. ‘Solidarity with black South African workers’

In 1973 thousands of African workers went on strike in Durban, heralding a new worker militancy and the growth of independent trade unions in the 1970s. This AAM leaflet expressed solidarity with the striking workers and accused British companies of profiting from starvation wages.

 
po019. Prominent South African public figure seeks white workers

Poster showing a picture of Prime Minister Vorster superimposed on a picture of the South African police attacking African women. It asked British workers not to emigrate to South Africa and highlighted the role of leading British companies in supporting apartheid.

 
tu43. Don’t Emigrate to South Africa

Britain was the biggest source of white immigrants to South Africa and Rhodesia throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1969 TUC annual congress passed a resolution urging affiliated unions to discourage their members from emigrating there. The AAM asked unions to follow up the resolution by circulating this leaflet or producing similar material themselves.

 
 
 
Powered by Phoca Download