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The influence of the Second World War on black labour in the Witwatersrand area, 1941-1947

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. L.W.F. Grundlingh en_US
dc.contributor.author Mahosi, Nkadimeng Theodore
dc.date.accessioned 2012-09-12T13:26:19Z
dc.date.available 2012-09-12T13:26:19Z
dc.date.issued 2012-09-12
dc.date.submitted 1998
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/7685
dc.description M.A. en_US
dc.description.abstract As a way of demonstrating the truth of the argument that war is a catalyst for social change, the Second World War added impetus to the transformation of the social standing of South African Blacks, black workers in particular. Although the war was not necessarily being fought for their benefit, but because of South Africa's political allegiance to the allied forces and consequent entry into the war, black workers were all the same affected by it. The outbreak of the Second World War, placed immense pressure on the black workers, especially between 1941 and 1947. Shortage of skilled white labour, as a result of their (whites) enlistment for the War effort, created a situation of labour necessity in both mining and manufacturing. As such, hundreds of Blacks migrated from the rural areas to the cities, especially the Witwatersrand in search of better paying jobs that could offer better social conditions. The emphasis on the need for labour and the resultant abundance thereof also influenced the emphasis on the need for cheap labour, more than skill, as a precondition to getting employment. The bottom-line was availability of labour for War production. Furthermore, in order to ensure availability of labour, the pass laws were temporarily suspended. Because of the objective of expending every effort to winning the War against Germany, War-time considerations forced the state and employers to preach about the suspension of pass laws for the sake of lesser restriction of movement of Blacks into towns. As a result, War-time necessity of labour also saw black women increasingly joining the labour world from the rural areas; that is if they succeeded in acquiring work. Failure to acquire work did not necessarily force women back to the rural areas, because they usually opted for alternatives to formal labour to survive War-time inflation and poverty: in other words to at least make ends meet. The alternatives were already familiar to them, maybe this explains why they opted for them. These were domestic labour, beerbrewing and prostitution, among others. Men also chose domestic labour, hawking, the canteen business, as alternatives in the event of failing to benefit from the job opportunities availed by the War. However, the opening up of job opportunities that resulted from the outbreak of the Second World War also had an influence on the issue of wages and conditions of work. War-time economic conditions caused the wages to remain static, increased overtime work and contributed to employment reduction. As War-time inflation continued to bite, the majority of the black population suffered from adverse poverty and shortage of civilian commodities aggravated the situation. These circumstances forced black workers, although it was illegal, to adopt trade unionism as a weapon to fight for better social conditions. The "rebirth" of the black trade union movement was, however, instigated by the inherent objectives of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) and the African National Congress (ANC), which took advantage of the War time social discrepancies that influenced the lives of black workers. The success in revitalizing black trade unionism, after the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) had closed shop in the 1930's, can be measured by the success in unionizing, not only manufacturing workers, but mineworkers as well, who were handicapped by being confined to the compounds, where activism was actually prohibited. The success of the trade union movement can also be measured by Wartime socio-economic grievances that were translated into a number of strikes that culminated in the mineworkers' strike of 1946. Although the strike of 1946 was not a great success in realising workers' demands, it certainly shook the government and employers from their ideological numbness, and made them aware that black workers were not to be necessarily taken for granted. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject World War, 1939-1945 - South Africa. en_US
dc.subject World War, 1939-1945 - Influence. en_US
dc.subject Blacks - South Africa - Witwatersrand - Social conditions. en_US
dc.subject World War, 1939-1945 - Blacks - South Africa. en_US
dc.subject Labor market - South Africa en_US
dc.title The influence of the Second World War on black labour in the Witwatersrand area, 1941-1947 en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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