Industrial Aid Society (IAS)

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Members of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), such as Steven Friedman and Jeanette Curtis together with South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) members - such as Mirriam Sithole and Phindile Mfeti - formed Industrial Aid Society (IAS) on the Witwatersrand in 1973.  Later other leading members of SACTU Joe Gqabi, Elliot Shabangu and Elias Mohlabe served on the IAS steering committee.

IAS’s aim was to disseminate information, to provide training and information service for workers and organizers, provide the complaints and advice service and certain benefits to members. It had an advice office and initiated worker education and established literacy groups and later established a benefit society and legal advice clinic.

The society conducted lectures which taught trade union politics to workers during weekends. These lectures served as forums for empowering debates centered on the type of trade unions that were to be established. By 1976 the IAS had formed the Council of Industrial Workers of the Witwatersrand (CIWW) to coordinate activities of the Metal and Allied Workers Union (MAWU).  However, over time tensions arose between members of SACTU within the IAS and other non SACTU members.

• Sithole, J, and Ndlovu, S.,‘The Revival of the Labour Movement, 1970”“1980’ in The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 2, 1970-1980, (Pretoria ”“UNISA), p.207-208.
Hemson, D., Legassick, M., and Ulrich, N., ‘White Activists in the Revival of the Worker’s Movement’ in The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Volume 2, 1970-1980, (Pretoria ”“UNISA), pp.273-274.

Last updated : 14-Feb-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 05-Feb-2013