Trade unionists

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.

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. The photo shows the marchers setting off from High Street, Oxford. 

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.

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 in Leeds for British trade unionists, to discuss how to campaign against arms sales to South Africa. 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.

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. The leaflet highlighted black South African workers lack of any trade union rights, and asked British trade unionists to campaign against British investment and arms sales to South Africa.

po018. ‘I work a 48 hour week for £2.10p.’

One of the AAM’s priorities was to win support from the British trade union movement. At its Congress in Blackpool in September 1971, the TUC adopted a resolution that reflected a shift towards a comprehensive anti-apartheid policy. It provided the basis for campaigning among trade unionists on arms sales, investment and emigration to South Africa. This poster reproduces the resolution.

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.