Black workers, their unions & the
struggle for freedom in South Africa

By Denis MacShane, Martin Plaut & David Ward
December 1984
Spokesman Books
ISBN: 0-85124-410-6
195 pages[cover]
$39.50 hardcover

The black trade unions in South Africa constituted the most effective challenge to the apartheid state. In 1969, there were just 15,000 African workers in trade unions. In 1984, when this book was published, more than half a million blacks were organized.

In the three years leading to 1984, there was, on average, a strike a day. Despite repression, arrests, exile, torture and murder, the black working class in South Africa continued successfully to organize and to struggle.

This was the first book to examine the emerging black trade union movement and where it had got by the mid-1980s. Based on research and interviews with workers and union leaders in South Africa, it chronicles and analyzes the history of the black working class struggle, its achievements, its internal differences, its politics and international links.

About the authors:
Denis MacShane is a former BBC producer and president of Britain's National Union of Journalists. His previous books include a study of Solidarity, the Polish union and a political biography of France's President Mitterand. He is now an official of the International Metalworkers Fderation.

Martin Plaut was educated at the University of Cape Town. Until the mid-80s he worked in the Labour Party's International Department in charge of its Africa desk. He is now a broadcaster with the BBC's Africa Service.

David Ward works for the World Development Movement. He is co-author of the 1982 Spokesman pamphlet "Black Trade Unions in South Africa." He has travelled extensively in Southern Africa.

Industrial Relations; History

Return to Coronet Books main page