College Papers

War MWU members was that the MWU executive

War measures assignment

It is worth noting that from 1910 until the new
dispensation, five pieces of legislation Acts which covered the regulation and
management of labour relations, and freedom of association, in particular, were
passed. 1
However, in the same vein passed a number of legislation which although prima
facie seemed not to deal with labour relations but had an impact on freedom of
association and labour politics in general.

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The growth of African trade unions between 1930 and 1945,
saw a corresponding growth in militancy, especially during the War: in the
period 1940-45.2 While
in the period between 1930 and 1939 a total of 26 254 Blacks had struck
work for an average of 2.7 man-days and a total loss of 71 078 man-days,
the corresponding figures for the period between 1940 and 1945 were 52
394 Black workers on strike for an average of 4,2 man-days and a total
loss of 220 205 man-days.3

The War Measures’ Acts had a significant effect on the
freedom of association of all workers irrespective of race. According to Visser
approximately seventeen acts relating to war measures4
and its legal consequences were promulgated by Parliament between 1940 and 1947.5 

Article 1 of the War Measures’ Act No. 29 of 1940, called
for the amendment of Clause 135 of the MWU constitution effectively prohibiting
any contestations for position in the MWU executive during the war and up to
six months after the cessation of hostilities.6
This struck a blow to the aspirations of large contingent of Afrikaner members
of MWU whom fuelled by growing Afrikaans nationalism wanted to see a complete
overhaul of the English led MWU executive. 
The general feeling among Afrikaner MWU members was that the MWU
executive was corrupt and collaborating with the Chamber of Mines to keep the
economic standard of the miners at a low level.7
As a result of War Measures’ Act,8
Afrikaner miners, despite the fact that following the first world war, made up
about 75 per cent of the white labour force of the gold mines9
failed to take control of the MWU executive until the Nationalist Party under
DF Malan won the 1948 general elections.

War measure 6 of 1941 authorised the secretary of labour to
fix wages and settle disputes. In August 1941 following a strike by African
dockers at Durban  for a wage increase
from 4s. to 8s. a day,  the
secretary of labour banned the strike and instead granted an increase of 1s.10
War measure 9 of 1942 prohibited strikes in industries declared
to be essential, and provided for compulsory arbitration.11

War measure 145 of 1942 outlawed strikes by Africans,
exposed strikers to the savage maximum penalty of a £500 fine or three
years’ imprisonment, and imposed compulsory arbitration at his discretion.12
In August 1944, government enacted war measure 1425 which prohibited
gatherings of more than twenty persons on proclaimed mining ground.13
The ban, observed Marks, was ‘the beginning of the undoing of the union’.14

1 1911.
NATIVE LABOUR REGULATION ACT, 1924. INDUSTRIAL CONCILIATION ACT NO 11, 1937.
INDUSTRIAL CONCILIATION AMENDMENT ACT NO 36,

2 http://research.ancarchives.org.za/user/download_watermark_image?branded_id=995_8&media_id=995_8.

3 O’Meara,
D. (1975): The 1946 African mineworkers s t r i k e i n t h e P o l i t i c a l
Economy of South Africa, Journal of Commonwealth and comparative P o l i t i c
s , Vo1.12, No.2., (O’Meara, 1975, p.
11)

 http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10539/9575/ISS-330.pdf?sequence=1

 

4 War
Measures’ Act No. 13 of 1940; Defence Special Pensions and Moratorium (War Measures’)
Act No. 29 of 1940; War Measures’ (Amendment Act) No. 32 of 1940; War Damage
Insurance Act No. 21 of 1941; Active Service Voters’ Act No. 37 of 1941; War
Pensions Act No. 45 of 1941; War Measures’ Act No. 9 of 1942; War Damage
Insurance Amendment Act No. 25 of 1942; War Pensions Act No. 44 of 1942; War
Service Voters’ Act No. 34 of 1943; Soldiers and War Workers’ Employment Act
No. 40 of 1944; Military Service Act No. 2 of 1945; War Measures’ Act No. 13 of
1946; War Measures’ Act (Amended) No. 26 of 1946; War Pensions Laws Amendment
Act No. 58 of 1946; War Pensions Laws Amendment Act No. 17 of 1947 and the War
Measures’ Repeal Act No. 30 of 1947.

5
Wessel Visser, Politics Under Conditions of War: the effect of the War
Measures Acts on Political Struggles within the South African Mine Workers’
Union, 1939-1947, Scientia Militaria vol 44, no 1, 2016, pp 209-223.
doi:10.5787/44-1-1168

6 Wessel
P. Visser, URBANIZATION AND AFRIKANER CLASS FORMATION: THE MINE WORKERS’

UNION AND THE SEARCH FOR A CULTURAL IDENTITY?†

7

8 No.
29 of 1940

9
Ibid

10H.
J. AND R. E. SIMONS, Class and Colour in South Africa 1850-1950, page
556

11 Wessel Visser,  Politics Under Conditions of War: the
effect of the War Measures Acts on Political Struggles within the South African
Mine Workers’ Union, 1939-1947,  Scientia Militaria vol 44, no 1, 2016, pp
209-223. doi:10.5787/44-1-1168, page 212.

12 Ibid page 557

13
Ibid page 572 or http://research.ancarchives.org.za/user/download_watermark_image?branded_id=995_8=995_8.

14
Ibid page 572