Trade unionists

tu19. Trade union conference

In the late 1970s after the Soweto uprising and the growth of independent trade unions in South Africa, there was a big increase in the number of British trade unions affiliated to the AAM. The main theme of this 1979 conference for British trade unionists was the campaign for sanctions against South Africa.

doc60. One Union’s Fight Against Apartheid

In 1964 David Kitson was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for sabotage. In the late 1950s he worked as a draughtsman in Britain and was a member of the trade union DATA, later TASS. As soon as it heard of his arrest, the union formed the Free Dave Kitson Committee. For the next 20 years TASS campaigned for his release and helped support his family. David Kitson served his full sentence and was freed in 1984.

apd31. African Workers and Apartheid

Under apartheid black workers were exploited to provide high living standards for the white minority. This pamphlet describes the web of legislation which controlled where Africans could work and imposed a rigid ‘colour bar’ confining them to unskilled jobs and poverty wages. It shows how in the 1970s African workers fought back against restrictions on their right to organise and, against all the odds, began to build an independent trade union movement.  

tu20. Message to TUC delegates

Every year the AAM held a fringe meeting and distributed information on Southern Africa at the TUC annual congress. This message to delegates at the 1980 congress asked them to support African municipal workers on strike in South Africa. It also highlighted AAM campaigns for the release of Nelson Mandela, against nuclear collaboration with South Africa and the boycott of South African goods.

pic8005. ‘Hands off Namibian Uranium’

In the 1970s and 1980s Britain imported uranium from Rio Tinto Zinc’s Rossing mine in Namibia in contravention of UN resolutions. As part of a long-running campaign, on 8 November 1980 over 300 demonstrators marched to British Nuclear Fuels Springfields plant near Preston where the uranium was processed. They were led by trade union banners from Preston, Leeds and Merseyside and joined by trade unionists from all over the north of England. The demonstration was organised by the North-West Trade Union/AAM Liaison Committee and the Namibia Support Committee.

pic8006. ‘Hands off Namibian Uranium’

In the 1970s and 1980s Britain imported uranium from Rio Tinto Zinc’s Rossing mine in Namibia in contravention of UN resolutions. As part of a long-running campaign, on 8 November 1980 over 300 demonstrators marched to British Nuclear Fuels Springfields plant near Preston where the uranium was processed. They were led by trade union banners from Preston, Leeds and Merseyside and joined by unionists from all over the north of England. The demonstration was organized by the North-West Trade Union/AAM Liaison Committee and the Namibia Support Committee.

pic8101. ‘Release Oscar Mpetha!’

British trade unionists protested outside South Africa House on the first day of the trial of veteran South African trade unionist Oscar Mpetha on 3 March 1981. After a long trial Mpetha was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday. In the picture is Bill Rampton from the train drivers union ASLEF, with the banner of the committee set up by the draughtsmen’s trade union AUEW (TASS) to support its former member, political prisoner David Kitson.

Pic8102. ‘Release Oscar Mpetha!’

British trade unionists protested outside South Africa House in London on the first day of the trial of veteran South African trade unionist Oscar Mpetha on 3 March 1981. After a long trial Mpetha was sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released in 1989 soon after his 80th birthday. Left to right: General Secretaries Jack Boddy from the Agricultural Workers Union, Alan Sapper from the film technicians union ACTT and Stan Pemberton, President of the Transport and General Workers Union.