Many workers write letters to Learn and Teach. They ask about their rights. They ask about worker organizations. They ask where they can find these organizations.
Learn and Teach has made a list of all worker organizations. In this magazine we give a list of worker organizations in the Transvaal. In the next magazine we will give a list of worker organizations in the Cape, Natal and Orange Free State. So don’t forget to buy Learn and Teach next month!
Workers can go to two types of worker organizations. – Trade Unions and Worker Advice Centres:
WHAT IS A TRADE UNION?
Why do workers work for bosses? They work because they do not own land or tools. They cannot make things to sell. They cannot feed themselves. So they must sell their labour to bosses.
Workers in factories are often unhappy. They get low wages. They work long hours. They work under bad conditions.
Workers want to make life better for themselves. But a worker can’t make things better alone. If a worker complains, the boss may not listen. Or the boss may fire the worker. The boss knows he can find many other workers for the job.
Workers need ways to look after themselves. Workers know they are strong when they stand together. So workers unite in trade unions. This is called worker organization. They organize to fight for better wages and better working conditions. They unite to fight for a better life for themselves and their families.
UNIONS ARE STRONG WHEN WORKERS HAVE A FULL SAY HOW THEIR UNION WORKS. WORKERS WILL FEEL THE UNION BELONGS TO THEM. THEY WILL STAND TOGETHER TO MAKE THE UNION STRONG.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF UNIONS
We find two different kinds of unions in South Africa. We find Industrial Unions and General Worker Unions.
Industrial Unions organize workers in one industry only. An industry means all the factories or firms that do the same work. For example: all the factories that make cars and car parts belong to the motor industry. Industrial Unions unite all workers in the same industry.
General Workers Union
A General Workers Union organizes workers from all factories or firms. A general union unites workers from different industries. For example: Farms workers and factory workers can belong to a General Workers Union. Workers can join either an Industrial Union or a General Worker Union.
FEDERATION OR COUNCIL OF UNIONS
Some trade unions are joined together in a Federation or Council of Unions. Trade Unions join together to make each other strong. They join together to learn from each other and to share ideas.
WORKER ADVICE AND AID CENTRES
Advice or Aid centres are also worker organizations. They are not like trade unions.They do not organize workers in the factories. They give advice and help to workers. They help single workers or groups of workers. They give advice to workers about workers rights, wages, pensions, health and working conditions. They also give advice about unions. They explain about worker organizations. They tell workers how to join a trade union.
HOW TO USE THIS LIST
If you want to join a trade union:
Read the list carefully.
See what Unions you can join.
Go to the Unions near you.
Discuss worker organization with the unions.
Decide which union to join.
If you need help or advice:
Read the list of advice centres.
See which centre will help with your problems.
Go to the advice office.
Many Unions have grown strong in the past 10 years. We call these ‘emerging’ unions. We give you a list of ‘emerging’ unions only.