Trade unionist who brought the grievances of black workers int white homes through a crippling of Johannesburg municipal workers in 1980.Mr Mavi was born in the Transkei in 1938,Mavi matriculated at St John's High School and moved to Johannesburg in 1957,taking a series of semi-skilled jobs and gaining political experience working for Bantu Federation of South Africa,an early civic association.In 1970,when working as a truck driver,he was elected to the executive of the African Transport Worker's Union (ATWU),and in 1975 became its president.

The ATWU was a parallel union for blacks within the white-led Trade Union Council of South Africa. Mavi shared the resentment of blacks about white control over the expression of workers grievances,and after being sacked from the ATWU in a dispute in 1978 he began to mobilize black city workers in Johannesburg to form an independent union. Mavi was employed as a bus driver in June 1980 when he launched the Black Municipality Worker's Union. Defying conventional wisdom about the futility of organizing migrant worker's,in late July the newborn union led 10,000 municipal workers,most earning starvation wages after many years' service,in a strike symbolized by images of garbage-stewn streets. Within a week,the city council crushed the strike,which was the largest labor action against a single employer in South Africa history.Despite accusations of recklessness from other labor leaders,the charismatic Mavi became an overnight hero. Several thousand workers were fired and deported to the homelands,and the union languished.Surfacing from hiding,Mavi was arrested and charged with sabotage,followed by a lesser charge,but was acquitted.Detained for three months in 1981,he died in a car accident the following year.


Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990)

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