Trade unionists

lgs21. Brent AA Group message to trade unionists

Many local AA groups formed links with trade union branches. In 1986 Brent AA group circulated this leaflet to local unions asking them to affiliate and asking trade unionists to join as individual members.

pic8624. Vigil at Commonwealth mini-summit

British trade union leaders at a vigil outside the mini-summit of Commonwealth leaders at Marlborough House, 3–5 August 1986. At the mini-summit Commonwealth leaders imposed a package of sanctions against South Africa. Left to right: TUC General Secretary Norman Willis, Ron Todd (TGWU), David Williams (COHSE)  and Brenda Dean (SOGAT).

tu26. ‘Time to Act’ message to trade unionists

The AAM made this appeal to trade unionists in September 1986, soon after a countrywide state of emergency was introduced in South Africa. Its emphasis was on the general campaign for sanctions rather than, as in the 1970s, campaigns against individual companies or support for South African workers.

pri32. ‘Free All Apartheid’s Detainees’


Altogether 30,000 South Africans were held in detention under the national State of Emergency imposed in June 1986. This leaflet promoted a petition launched with the backing of the British Council of Churches and the TUC and was signed by a third of a million people in Britain. It was presented to the South African authorities, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Day, 10 December 1987.

pri33. ‘Free All Apartheid’s Detainees’

Altogether 30,000 South Africans were held in detention under the national State of Emergency imposed in June 1986. This petition was launched with the backing of the British Council of Churches and the TUC and was signed by a third of a million people in Britain. It was presented to the South African authorities, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Day, 10 December 1987.

pic8727. Solidarity with striking South African workers

In 1986 a British-owned company BTR (British Tyre and Rubber) dismissed its entire workforce. The workers had gone on strike in response to the company’s refusal to recognise their union NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers). The strike was the longest-running dispute in South African history and the workers won support from trade unionists all over the world, including Britain. In the picture supporters are picketing the company’s London headquarters after taking part in a sit-down protest inside the building.

tu30. Merseyside conference

This conference for trade unionists was one of many regional initiatives in the mid and late 1980s. It brought together local trade unionists and anti-apartheid activists. The conference focused on campaigning for sanctions and the role of the ANC in South Africa and SWAPO in Namibia.

doc67. Solidarity with South African Rail Workers

In March 1986 members of the British NUR set up Rail Against Apartheid to mobilise support among British railwaymen for the South African Rail and Harbour Workers Union (SARHWU). This report by two Rail Against Apartheid members who visited South Africa on a fact-finding mission was written in the aftermath of SARHWU’s three-month strike in 1987 during which six South African railworkers were shot dead by police. The report details the practical support given by the NUR to SARHWU and Rail Against Apartheid’s involvement in wider AAM campaigns for the isolation of apartheid South Africa.