Labor Against Apartheid

(Vol. 2, No. 1)
by New York Area Labor Committee Against Apartheid
New York, New York, United States
Summer 1985
2 pages
Type: Newsletter
Coverage in Africa: Namibia, South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States, Ireland
Language: English
Contents: Union Leaders Face Treason Charges As South Africa Protests Grow • Labor in South Africa • International Solidarity • The Death of Brother Andries Raditsela • The newsletter says the struggle to free South Africa from the racist apartheid system has gained new intensity in recent months; in the US and abroad, thousands of people have joined the divestment movement to cut economic lifelines to the South African government.  The newsletter says the newly formed Black unions are leading workplace actions against the apartheid labor system, spurred by a rising economic crisis and spreading unemployment; a new generation of urban youth are defying government authority in the townships, acting on a multitude of grievances over services, tax and rent hikes, and the installation of puppet officials. The newsletter says throughout the country, religious, labor and community leaders are challenging the 'reform' Constitution of 1984, which denies any representation to the Black majority. The newsletter says the price of this struggle is tragically high: over 350 people have been killed by the South African government since August 1984, and nearly 6,000 have been arrested. The newsletter says this edition of Labor Against Apartheid is dedicated to the four unionists accused of high treason and focuses on how American union members can work for their release in the months ahead. The newsletter says despite government and employer reprisals, strikes by Black workers for union recognition and better conditions continue to spread across South Africa. The newsletter says a growing number of Black trade unions—including the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) and the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA)—have called on US companies to stop all new investments which support the apartheid system. The newsletter says on April 2, members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) demonstrated at the Johannesburg offices of Citibank, urging multinational corporations to leave South Africa; on May Day, 14 Black South Africans were arrested outside the US consulate in Johannesburg demanding that US businesses withdraw investments; these activities are all the more significant since support for sanctions and disinvestment is considered an act of treason by the South African government. The newsletter says on May 1, representatives from six unions conducted an 18-hour occupation of the offices of Deak-Perera, which sells the Krugerrand gold coin for the South African government; the sit-in was bolstered by a picket line and rally outside that drew 350 union members from over 30 unions, organized by the Massachusetts Labor Support Project. The newsletter says workers at the Dunnes Stores in Dublin have been on the picket line for 11 months in protest against the company's purchase and sale of South African and Namibian products; the walkout began when a shop steward refused to sell a South African grapefruit. The newsletter says members of the United Mine Workers (UMWA), on strike for nearly a year against A.T. Massey, are also fighting the 'South Africa connection' of its major owner, the Fluor Corporation. The newsletter discusses the Internal Security Act, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), GM (General Motors), of the South African Allied Workers Union (SAAWU), the Chemical Workers Industrial Union (CWIU), state violence, popular protest, repression, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre, Lange Township near Uitenhage, a funeral for recent strike victims, people killed, treason trial against 16 national Black leaders, the South African Allied Workers Union, treason, the death penalty, Anglo-American Mining Corp., Black mineworkers, the Vaal Reefs mine, a strike for higher wages, the National Union of Mineworkers, 'homelands', multinational corporations, the German Siemens Corp., he Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage, GM (General Motors), Ford, Firestone, various codes of conduct (such as the US Sullivan Principles), the Chemical Workers Industrial Union (CWIU), Tsakane Township, SASOL, Black workers, black farmers, the seizure of land, forced removals, farmworkers, and Boston.
Used by permission of former members of the New York Labor Committee Against Apartheid.
Collection: New York Labor Committee Against Apartheid, Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections