Document 13 - Letter from John Gomes to C. F. Glass, 31 May 1927

From: South Africa's Radical Tradition, a documentary history, Volume One 1907 - 1950, by Allison Drew

Document 13 - Letter from John Gomes to C. F. Glass, 31 May 1927

                                                                                                                                              24 Parkin Street

                                                                                                                                                      Cape Town

                                                                                                                                                31st May 1927.

Mr. C.F. Glass


Dear Comrade

As I have promised you when you were in Cape Town that I will communicate with you with regard to the Tailors' Union, I did not do so earlier because I was waiting for some definite decisions that were to arise from the negotiations between the employers and the employees of the Tailoring Industry locally. This broke down. They could not come to any understanding. The bosses were only prepared to pay an average wage per week of £2.10. Our bargainers accepted this at first, but our members at a General Meeting turned it furiously down. Thus the deadlock.

We are now waiting on the Wage Board to lay down a system of wages and conditions. At a General Meeting held on 27th May it was decided to recommend to the Wage Board to do away with "fixed rates" and institute a "time basis". That a beginner will start with 17/6 per week up to £6 a journeyman. Women to receive the same wages as men.

This no doubt you will see, must necessitate a complete reorganisation of the present chaotic state of the Tailoring Industry. What I would like to know, how you had it settled in Joh'burg before the lapse of your agreement and what is the conditions of your new agreement, if that is settled? Have you done away with piece work?

The question of amalgamation I had not yet had the chance to raise. We are very young yet as an organisation and our superiors of the Federation of Trades gives us very little opportunity to meddle with such wider questions. I may say, we are now leading ourself yet. Our Chairman is Mr. Riddal of the S.A.T.U.-, Stuart, Secretary; and Lindie, E.C. member of the Federation, Treasurer. I have broached the more influential members on it and they certainly favour the idea. But I shall press the question at the next available opportunity. And I think the time is becoming more opportune now in view of the conversations between the Executives of the T.U.C. and the C.F.L.U. and consequently a referendum of their affiliated unions will be taken "on the proposal to set up a joint committee to explore the possibilities of bringing about complete co-operation". This is fortunate.2'' But we will have to press from the bottom against self-aggrandisement, which is the cause of the present aloofness.

When are you falling back into the "fold". I don't think you have made yourself ineligible for membership of the Party, as far as I know?

                                                                                                                         Thanking you in anticipation,

                                                                                                                                              Yours fraternally

                                                                                                                                        (Sgd.) JOHN GOMAS

P.S. Our union have changed from sections into one "Garment Workers' Union".