Historical Background Of Trade Unions In South Africa

2406 words - 10 pages

1.INTRODUCTIONThe development of the South African labor movement dates back to the industrialization and the discovery of gold and diamonds in the late 1800's. The South African trade union labour movement was also instrumental in campaigns to end Apartheid. This campaign was based on durable shop-floor structures organized through shop stewards committees. It is also important to understand that trade unions in South Africa were assisted by unions abroad especially those organizing workers in the same transnational corporations, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO).In this essay, I will be applying the Conflict theory of Karl Marx, thus we will begin by elaborating on the history of trade union movement in South Africa, the current trade unions in South Africa; the Congress of the South African Trade Unions, the South Democratic Teachers Union and the National of Mineworkers. Then lastly we will look at the legislation guiding trade unions movements presently.2. HISTORY OF TRADE UNIONS MOVEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICATrade unionism in South Africa grew in the 1880s and 1890; this is where craft unions emerged and also the discovery of gold and diamond in the Witwaterand and Kimberly area. Most of these workers were from Great Britain and Australia; this was because of the lack of training facilities for the type of artisan skills needed by the mining industries of that time. Thus South African trade unions remained in the hands of the immigrant. For example the Engineers Association from Britain which had branches in South Africa. There was also at this stage the racial occupational segregation in mining industries, where the established rates for skilled Whites on the diamond and gold field came to be regarded as the standard wage for all White workers, skilled or unskilled. Similarly, unskilled labor came to be paid highly compared to Black workers either skilled or unskilled. Such factors operating within the wage and job system already described above, also lent their influence to the structuring of labor organization and methods (Webster 1998).The engineering and typographical workers associations emerged in Cape Town and in Durban in the 1880s, which saw the establishment of the Transvaal Engine Drive's Association in the Rand area in 1894. Its objective was to convince the government to make it compulsory for all Engine Drivers to have Governmental certificate. It is also important to acknowledge the legislations passed in parliament by the White government. This includes the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924, the Wage Act of 1925, the Mine and Workers Amendment Act of 1926. This led to the expansion of Trade Unionism in South Africa which saw the birth of a new African union's federation, and the Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU), which by 1945 represented African workers in the commerce and industry. In 1950 the CNETU amalgamated with other unions to form the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Friedman...

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