Trade unionists

The TUC distributed this leaflet calling on trade unionists to boycott South African goods in response to a call from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). It asked them to support the Boycott Committee’s March Month of Boycott in 1959. It held back from taking the more radical step proposed by the ICFTU of asking its affiliated unions to instruct their members not to handle products from South Africa.

The AAM produced this leaflet for British trade unionists in the early 1960s, when the former President of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), Leon Levy, worked as its trade union officer. It asked workers to campaign for the isolation of apartheid South Africa and support the struggles of South African trade unionists.

This leaflet stressed that the call for a boycott of South African goods in Britain was part of an international campaign by workers all over the world.

After Labour won the general election in October 1964 it compromised on its commitment to end all arms sales to South Africa. This leaflet asked trade unionists to ensure that Labour carried out its pledge and to press it to impose economic sanctions against South Africa.

The AAM produced this leaflet for British trade unionists in the mid-1960s.

The AAM set up a Trade Union Action Group to work in the trade union movement in 1968. This leaflet highlighted the part played by British companies in exploiting black workers and asked British trade unionists to support workers in all the white-ruled Southern African countries.

Trade unionists at Ruskin College, Oxford organised a march from Oxford to London in 1969 as part of their campaign for the release of former Ruskin student David Kitson. Kitson was sentenced to 20 years gaol in 1964 for organising sabotage in South Africa.

John Sheldon was the General Secretary of the Public and Civil Service Union. As a student at Ruskin College, Oxford, he helped set up the Ruskin College Kitson Committee to campaign for the release of gaoled trade unionist David Kitson and took part in the demonstrations against the 1969–70 South African rugby tour.

This is a complete transcript of an interview carried out by Christabel Gurney in 2000.