White labour and the 'social democratic' movement in the Transvaal; the South African Labour Party, the South African Trades and Labour Council and their trade union affiliates, 1930 - 1954

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The first quarter or so of the present century witnessed violent struggles between white workers and the South African state, and the entrenchment of the job colour bar in the mining industry. The Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924 is generally considered to have dampened the militancy of the white workers by institutionalising the trade unions within a statutory collective bargaining system. The South African Labour Party served as the junior partner in the famous 'pact' coalition government from 1924. The South African Labour Party split in 1928 and the Party and the white labour movement in general appeared to move off the front stage of the political arena. A considerable amount of literature has appeared on the white labour movement during the first three decades of the present century. Many authors virtually ignore the white labour movement when analysing the establishment of the present-day National Party (an Afrikaner nationalist party) in 1934 and its eventual victory in the 1948 general election. Yet the white labour movement constituted a major battleground in the Afrikaner nationalists' endeavours to mobilise the Afrikaner workers behind their banner.

Bibliography: p.330-353.