Trade unionists

pic8504. Actors against apartheid

Members of the actors’ union Equity called for the resignation of Equity President Derek Bond after he performed for whites-only audiences in South Africa. Bond campaigned to reverse Equity’s support for the cultural boycott. Equity members picketed the first night of a play at Theatre Royal, Nottingham, in which Bond played a starring role.

tu24. Pulling Out from Apartheid: A Guide for Action

At the height of the AAM campaign for sanctions in the mid-1980s, many local organisations produced their own campaign material. This pamphlet published in east London by Tower Hamlets Solidarity and Tower Hamlets Trades Council was a comprehensive campaign guide for trade unions, local authorities, community organisations and individuals.

pic8601. Portsmouth healthworkers boycott

These healthworkers asked Portsmouth Area Health Authority to phase out the purchase of South African and Namibian produce in January 1986. When the management refused, they refused to handle tinned food from South Africa supplied for patients’ meals. Area Health Authority van drivers and 130 other workers joined the boycott action. They were supported by the public service workers union NUPE, health workers union COHSE and transport workers union TGWU.

pic8609. Performers Against Racism

Lenny Henry and David Yip were among the 200 entertainers at the launch of Performers Against Racism on 26 January 1986. They pledged to boycott all links with apartheid South Africa. The launch was triggered by a referendum in the actors union Equity seeking to relax the cultural boycott. Performers against Racism called for the boycott to be extended to films and video as well as radio and television.

tu27. Trade union conference, 1986

Programme for the AAM conference for trade unionists held on 1 March 1986. The conference focused on disinvestment and trade sanctions. It was attended by around 450 delegates representing 37 trade unions and 29 trades councils.

tu28. Yorkshire and Humberside Trade Union Briefing

As local anti-apartheid groups mushroomed in the mid-1980s, they formed regional committees and alliances with local trade union organisations. This briefing for trade unionists was produced by the Yorkshire and Humberside AAM Committee with the support of the Yorkshire Region of the TUC.

boy10. Stop South African Coal!

In 1986 the British National Union of Mineworkers and the AAM launched a new campaign to stop South African coal imports into the UK. Coal imports to Western Europe rose sharply in the mid-1980s. Coal became South Africa’s second biggest export earner after gold. 30,000 copies of this leaflet were distributed to trade unionists at May Day rallies in 1987, asking them to take action to stop the trade.

po169. Mass Lobby for Sanctions, 1986

Poster publicising a parliamentary lobby on 17 June 1986 calling on the British government to impose sanctions against South Africa. More than 3,500 people lobbied their MPs askin them to press for a change of policy. The lobby was initiated by the AAM, with support from the TUC, British Council of Churches and the United Nations Association. The summer of 1986 was the high point of the international campaign for sanctions against South Africa.