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The ICU adopted a more active approach in fighting for better working conditions and reasonable salaries for its members. That made it a popular labour movement.

Undertaken by white workers, this revolt was in response to goldmine companies cutting their wages and weakening the colour bar in order to promote cheaper black minors into skilled and supervisory positions.

Working conditions were extremely difficult and there was a growing resolve by ordinary people to overthrow the apartheid system.

Protests for political change swept across the country and the formation of social movements like the UDF contributed to the groundswell.



These talks were aimed at fostering agreement on the alignment of the labour movement with the political struggles of the majority.

Cosatu became the largest federation of trade unions in South Africa. At its launch, it brought together 33 unions representing about 460 000 workers.

In early 1987 the country witnessed a rising militancy and resolve among black workers. Labour was subject to brutal repression by the state.


The struggle for socio-economic freedom was strengthened by ordinary people heeding the call for social solidarity.


Over 3 million workers participated in what was deemed the biggest stay-away, which lasted two days. This was more than the total number of white voters in the white elections.

The collective efforts of social movements, comrades, international trade unions, businesses to fight for economic and political freedom ultimately led to the unraveling of apartheid.

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