6 November 1929
Ray Alexander Simons nee Alexandrowich arrives in South Africa from Latvia where she was born on 12 January 1913. After her arrival in the country she realized that many workers in the Cape Town area and in the rest of the country were not organized into unions. Consequently, she became involved in the labour movement by organizing Black workers' unions in the Western Cape. After joining the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) she took part in the anti-pass campaign. Later Ray Alexander became instrumental in organizing workers of different racial groups of different trades. For example, in 1941 she founded the Food and Canning Workers' Union (FCWU) in the Western Cape. The FCWU then spread through the fruit canning industry of the Boland and up the west coast among the fishing communities. So influential was FCWU that by 1945 the union had obtained a wage determination for the fish canning industry. In the 1950s, members of FCWU played a leading role in the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) In April 1954, Ray Alexander together with Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi and Florence Mkhize helped found the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) which fought for women's rights. She was issued with a banning order in 1954 which forced her to resign from FEDSAW. Ray Alexander was forced into exile where she continued to support the struggle against apartheid. Between 1981 and 1983 Ray Alexander wrote a series of articles for the African Communist under various pseudonyms and in 1986, she was elected life president of FAWU. The role played by Ray Alexander throughout her life is acknowledged by various organizations both in and outside South Africa. For instance the Communist Party, trade unions, South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and the ANC acknowledge the importance of the role played Ray Alexander in struggle against apartheid. Ray Alexander Simons died on 12 September 2004 at the age of 91. Sources: Rachel "Ray" Alexander, from the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), [online] Available at www.fawu.org.za [Accessed 28 October 2010] Anon, (2009), About FAWU, from the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), 1 April 2009, [online] Available at www.fawu.org.za  [Accessed 28 October 2010] Tor SellstrÁƒÂƒÂ¶m, (2002), Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa: Vol. II Solidarity and Assistance 1970-1994, (Stockholm), p.468 Benjamin Pogrund, (2004), 'Ray Simons Campaigner for workers' rights in South Africa', from the UK Independent, 22 September [online], Available at www.independent.co.uk [Accessed 28 October 2010]