South Africa Labor News

(Number 7)
by Free South Africa Labor Committee
Oakland, California, United States
October 1990
8 pages
Type: Newsletter
Coverage in Africa: South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
Contents: ANC/COSATU Condemn Inkatha-Police Violence • Mandela Receives Hero’s Welcome in Bay Area • Exclusive Interview: SACTU Leaders Hail Trade Union Unity in South Africa • Henning and McClain Give Labor’s Respect to Mandela • Advisory Board, Free South Africa Labor Committee • The newsletter says in the last three years, over 3,000 Black South Africans have been killed, mostly in Natal Province, in a campaign by KwaZulu bantustan Chief Gatsha Buthelezi against the liberation movement; specially targeted have been members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the United Democratic Front. The newsletter says since the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress and other liberation organizations, violent attacks by vigilante gangs of Buthelezi's organization Inkatha have spread to the main industrial townships around Johannesburg; COSATU has called the attacks "an orchestrated reign of terror by Inkatha and elements of the security forces, particularly the South African Police; the violence ... has been pre-meditated, planned and brutally executed against defenseless civilians."  The newsletter says COSATU notes that it warned authorities before attacks took place; the trade union movement in South Africa has reached new heights; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), with 1.5 million members, is the largest and most powerful trade union federation in the history of that country; while COSATU is only five years old, it is the latest phase in a nearly 70-year history of multi-racial labor organizing within South Africa. The newsletter says the predecessor of COSATU was the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU); unlike its heir, SACTU was not allowed by the South African government to organize openly and legally; founded in 1955, the organization immediately became popular; but by the early 1960's, the government had either jailed, executed, exiled or driven underground most of the SACTU leadership; despite its hardships, the federation was able to boast a membership of more than 50,000 at the height of its operations; SACTU eventually moved its headquarters to Lusaka, Zambia, where it remains today. The newsletter says the similarity of the names of the two organizations is no coincidence; as SACTU had before it, COSATU has a multiracial constituency; and like SACTU, COSATU is also closely allied with the African National Congress. The newsletter includes a photograph of South African postal workers protesting against the plan to privatize the Post Office holding signs in support of POTWA (Posts and Telecommunications Workers Association). The newsletter says this issue of South Africa Labor News was edited by David Bacon; thanks for material made available by David Shelton, Franck Pottier, Aubrey Grossman and CISTUR, and for photos contributed by David Shelton, Chuck Idelson and COSATU's Campaign Bulletin. The newsletter includes an interview with Mark Shope and Eric Mtshali conducted by David Shelton in Lusaka in August. The newsletter includes remarks by John F. Henning, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, at a labor reception for Nelson Mandela and COSATU vice-president Chris Dlamini. The newsletter includes remarks by Curtis McClain, secretary-treasurer of the International Longshoremens' and Warehousemens' Union. The newsletter discusses SACTU's International Department, the South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union, the Milling Workers Union, African trade unions, the Labour Relations Act, the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924, the South African Harbour and Railway Workers Union (SARHWU), Sharpeville, Soweto, South African President F.W. de Klerk, CCB, the Askaris, Koevoet, mercenary groups, Battalions 32, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, Inkatha vigilantes, the State of Emergency in Natal, the United Democratic Front (UDF), and the South African Police (SAP). [Note: the correct spelling is: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union.]
Used by permission of David Bacon, a former member of the Free South Africa Labor Committee.
Collection: Kathleen M. Devine papers