oa Historia - Afrikanermynwerkers en die Mynwerkersunie, 1936-1948 : II : Die hervormingsorganisasie in die Mynwerkersunie, 1937-1948

Volume 32, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



Afrikaner Mine Workers and the Mine Workers' Union. 1936 1948 Between the years of 1936 and 1948 a bitter struggle waged in the ranks of the white Mine Workers Union (MWU) for control of this large and influential organisation. In essence it was a struggle of the unskilled and semi-skilled Afrikaner mine workers against the gross maladministration of the Union management. This struggle was, however, organised and fanned from the outside by Afrikaner political and cultural leaders (""Die Nasionale Raad van Trustees"" or NRT) in an attempt to mobilise the Afrikaner workers for party political and Afrikaner national interests. Their vehicle was the ""Afrikanerbond van Mynwerkers"" (ABM) -which, as an opposing Christian national union, tried to oust the MWU. The first serious attempt was warded off by reinstating the closed shop principle and thus making a second union illegal. Thereafter the ABM tried to reform the MWU from within and during a lengthy struggle succeeded in bringing the maladministration of the MWU in the open. In 1947 the struggle was won when a new Afrikaner dominated board of management was elected. The article focuses on the role of the NRT and ABM and the ways, in which it mobilised support from Afrikaners, the majority of whom did not have the same strong feelings of nationhood as the leaders of the ABM/NRT. In evaluating the role of the ABM/NRT the evidence indicates that in the initial phase of the struggle it played an important role, but in the latter stages it was partially pushed into the background by groups of mine workers committed to the basic principles of trade unionism and not in the first instance to Afrikaner solidarity.

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