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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:From Populism to Unionism: The Emergence and Nature of Port Elizabeth's Industrial and Commercial Worker's Union, 1918-1920
Author:Baines, Gary
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:trade unions
labour history
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Abstract:This article situates the emergence of Port Elizabeth's first general labour union, the Port Elizabeth Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union (PEICWU) within the local political economy as well as the wider national context of South Africa. It first outlines the economic transformation of Port Elizabeth from a trade and commercial centre to an industrial town. Thereafter, it examines, in greater detail, industrial development from the time of the First World War; working conditions during and immediately after the war; and the nature of the relationship between workers, employers and the local State. It shows that the deteriorating conditions of reproduction in the postwar period stimulated a broad populist movement of agitation amongst both aspirant petite-bourgeois and working class Africans and 'coloureds'. Finally, the article demonstrates that the mobilization of these communities provided the PEICWU with a potential constituency as the collective consciousness of workers was fashioned in the course of the struggle with local employers between late 1918 and 1920. Notes, ref., sum.