- 1976 - (Creation)
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were thus kept active and in close contact with the mass of the membership. Equally important, the lectures grew to be one of the best means of consolidating the advances we made up to June 1955 and of training new functionaries and preparing for the next round.
Three months before the COP progressive trade unionists took a significant step in the workers front and established a non racial trade union centre, the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), to co ordinate the activities of progressive workers without whose participation victory over the oppressor is inconceivable, with Piet Beyleveld and Leslie Masina as president and secretary respectively. Its emergence was a challenge to the racist and separatist policies of the government. My association with the new body was not only political and through bringing us together on the same committees and same campaigns; it was also professional. I handled a large number of their cases and came to have an even better appreciation of the problems facing it.
From its very beginning in the 19th century trade unionism in South Africa was marred by a vicious racialism. The African workers were relegated to the most menial tasks in agriculture, industry, mining, commerce and the public services and were kept out of skilled jobs. With few exceptions Coloured and Indian workers were in a similar position. It is ironical that employers, esdpecdially the mines, always wanted the black workers to be employed in skilled work and each time the white workers barred the way. Of course, each of the parties concerned had his own reasons for his attitude on the matter. The mine bosses wanted to exploit cheap black labour for super profits, while the white worker did not want his monopoly of skilled trades to be disturbed.