Trade unionists

pic8910. ‘Stop Apartheid Coal’, Teesside, 1989

Trade unionists from Teesside and Hartlepool protested against the unloading of South African coal at Teesport in north-east England on 11 May 1989. British miners and other trade unionists were at the forefront of the campaign against imports of South African coal. By the late 1980s the international campaign meant that it was often sold at a discounted price.

hgs18. ‘Save Miners Leader’

Tjeluvuyo Mgedezi was one of three mineworkers sentenced to death in May 1987. The British National Union of Mineworkers circulated a petition calling for his release to its members. It distributed 20,000 copies of this leaflet and publicised the case in its journal. In May 1989 the sentence was commuted to a long term of imprisonment. 

pic8920. ‘William Ntombela must not hang’

William Ntombela was one of several South African trade unionists sentenced to death in 1989. The British shopworkers union USDAW launched a petition for his release, signed by 5,000 members.  In the photograph USDAW General Secretary Garfield Davies (left) displays the petition. Partly as a result of the campaign the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

tu37. ‘Resistance and Represssion’ trade union conference

Programme for a conference on trade unions in South Africa held on 24 February 1990. After the banning of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1988, the trade union movement led the opposition to apartheid. The conference mobilised support for trade unionists who had been arrested and detained.

po181. ‘United Against Racism’

Poster featuring a photograph of Nelson Mandela with Ron Todd, General Secretary of the British Transport and General Workers Union, during Mandela’s visit to Britain in April 1990.

tu36. ‘Save the SARHWU Four!’

This leaflet tells the story of four railway workers who were sentenced to hang after a strike by employees of the South African Transport Service in 1987. They were alleged to have taken part in the killing of four non-strikers. The leaflet was produced by the Joint Campaign against the Repression of Trade Unionists with support from leading British trade unions.

bdg18. Free the South African Railworkers

Four railway workers were sentenced to death after a strike by employees of the South African Transport Service in 1987. They were alleged to have taken part in the killing of four non-strikers. This badge was produced by the Joint Campaign against the Repression of Trade Unionists, set  up by the AAM and leading British trade unions to campaign for the release of South African trade unionists.

pic9016. ‘Call to Freedom’ declaration, 1990

After the unbanning of the South African liberation movements in 1990, the AAM launched a ‘Call to Freedom Declaration’ on 26 June. The declaration called for an elected constituent assembly to agree on a new constitution for South Africa. Left to right: TUC president and NALGO officer Ada Maddocks, TUC General Secretary Norman Willis, Ron Todd, General Secretary of the transport workers union and Barbara Switzer, Deputy General Secretary of the supervisory workers union MSF sign the declaration at the 1990 TUC congress.