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Tomorrow It Could Be You

Strikes and Boycotts in South Africa, 1978-1982


Tracy Carson

Tomorrow It Could Be You unearths the historical significance of strikes and boycotts between 1978 and 1982 in South Africa’s Cape Province and explores their vital role in strengthening the country’s growing political movement. Drawing on archival research and interviews with union leaders, community activists, employers and workers, the author critically analyses a linchpin period between the early rise of independent unionism, following the Durban strikes of 1973, and the growth of mass political unionism in South Africa in the shape of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (1985). The book traces the evolution of political alliances between labour organisations and community activists through careful examination of four key strikes and boycotts: Eveready Battery (1978), Fatti’s & Moni’s (1979), red meat (1980) and Wilson-Rowntree (1981-1982). The author’s analysis reveals how these initial events changed the nature of South African protest, laying the groundwork for larger, more successful uprisings against the apartheid regime.


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List of Abbreviations -xi


List of Abbreviations AAM Anti-Apartheid Movement AASA Amalgamated Automobile Spares Association ABPA Athlone Business and Professional Association AFCWU African Food and Canning Workers Union ANC African National Congress ASTMS Association of Scientific Technical and Managerial Staf fs AZASO Azanian Students’ Organisation BAWU Black Allied Workers Union BC Black consciousness BCM Black Consciousness Movement BMWU Black Municipal Workers Union CAHAC Cape Area Housing Action Committee CCOBTU Consultative Committee of Black Trade Unions CMBU Confederation of Metal and Building Unions CNETU Congress of Non-European Trade Unions CNIP Ciskei National Independence Party COSAS Congress of South African Students COSATU Congress of South African Trade Unions CUSA Council of Unions of South Africa EEC European Economic Community FCWU Food and Canning Workers Union FOSATU Federation of South African Trade Unions xii List of Abbreviations GAWU General and Allied Workers Union GM General Motors GWU Garment Workers Union GWUSA General Workers Union of South Africa ICA Industrial Conciliation Act ICU Industrial and Commercial Workers Union IFCEWU International Federation of Chemical and Energy Workers’ Unions IICU Independent Industrial and Commercial Workers Union IMWF International Metalworkers Federation ISMC Inter School Magazine Committee IUF International Union Federation JMC Joint Meatworkers Committee MACWUSA Motor and Components Worker Union of South Africa MAWU Metal and Allied Workers Union NAAWU National Automobile and Allied Workers Union NAFCOC National African Federated Chambers of Commerce NEUM Non-European Unity Movement NMS National Meat Suppliers NUMARWOSA National Union of Motor Assembly and Rubber Workers of South Africa NUMAWOSA National Union of Motor Assembly Workers of...

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