1973 Durban Strikes

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Institute for Industrial Education (IIE)

The Institute for Industrial Education (IIE) was founded in Durban, in May 1973, to serve as a school for trade unionists of all races and to provide basic information and skills for effective trade union activity. The IIE registered as a correspondence college under the Bantu Education Act (1953), which ensured that the IIE was officially recognised and allowed to conduct a limited amount of face-to-face teaching.

The IIE was a coordinated effort between academics and trade unionists. The institute was affiliated to Ruskin College in England, an educational body based in Oxford, England for trade unionists. Soon after, from 1974 onwards, the IIE started up the publication, South African Labour Bulletin to report on and analyse labour matters.

Sociologist Fozia Fischer headed up the institute, while Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi was appointed the Chancellor, a position which the IIE felt would lend credibility to the organisation in the eyes of workers. Professor Lawrie Schlemmer, Director of the Institute of Social Research at Natal University, was its chairperson. Others associated with the IIE were Fozia Fischer, Eddie Webster, David Hemson and Omar Badsha. In 1973, the IIE employed Harold Bhekissa Nxasana as an organiser.

In 1974, it offered a correspondence course towards a Diploma in Industrial Relations with 139 students. Material from the IIE included political analysis, but was more practical in approach and dealt with issues such as industrial relations, the rights of workers, and the economy and IIE workbooks included topics such as profit, growth, investment, wages, and productivity.

Political education seminars continued until the arrests of Eddie Webster and Bekisisa Harold Nxasana. In December 1974 Webster, an education officer who also who served on the editorial board of the  South African Labour Bulletin, was arrested and detained under the Suppression of Communism Act. A year later Nxasana, also an education officer, was detained under Section 6 of the Terrorism Act.  

At TUACC’s 4th Congress all of the unions noted that, in spite of the latest changes to the

IIE, courses and material were still not suitable for the training of shop stewards. The

IIE subsequently was transformed into an education sub-committee and placed under the direct control of TUACC affiliates.

Last updated : 24-Oct-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 04-Feb-2014