- 1976 - (Creation)
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The African workers in the Durban branch of United Tobacco demanded higher wages and recognition by the firm of their union and when the demands were rejected they went on a go slow strike and production stopped.
The firm retaliated by locking out the workers, an action which was, as it still is, a criminal offence under the law, and called in the Department of Labour and the police who assisted and charged the workers for taking part in an illegal strike. Lengthy court proceedings then ensued but they were ultimately found guilty and fined. As is usual the police brought no criminal proceedings against the firm for locking out the workers. About 800 workers were dismissed.
In the course of the dispute the Union appealed to the white Union for support and when there was no response from this quarter they turned to the Congresses who called a coutrywide boycott of the products of the company.
The response was good and the company shares on the international stock exchanges plunged down. The London haedquarters of the company instituted an investigation which led to the dismissal of the managing director of the Durban branch and the introduction of changes in the whole management as well as improvements in the workers conditions. The strike failed in the sense that not all the workers were reinstated but the boycott succeeded in that it led to changes in management and the improvement in wages.