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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The Labour Policy Of The Rand Mines

The Commission of Inquiry into Native wages and conditions on the Rand mines and their effect on the whole country has rightly been described as one of the most important that has ever sat in South Africa. The valuable evidence presented by various bodies has not been fully reported in the daily Press. We therefore publish below a summary of some of the outstanding points made in this evidence, much of which showed wide general agreement. The bodies referred to we are :-

(1) S.A. Institute of. Race Relations ; (2) Friends of Africa ; (3) Natives Representative Council; (4) African Mine Workers' Union ; (5) Johannesburg District Committee of the Communist Party ; (6) Mr. D. B. Molteno, m.p. ; (7) The British High Commission Territories ; (8) Dr. J. N. Reed-man and Mr. P. H. Guenault, of the Witwatersrand University.

The numbers have been used to indicate the responsibility for particular statements quoted or summarized. The summary, which is based on the original memoranda, was compiled by Hilda Kuper with the assistance of Kathleen Theron.

The Communist Party illustrates the "devastation" of the rural territories with quotations and budgets from the Native Economic Commission 1930-32. The Native Representative Councillors substantiate these points and give the Native Affairs Commission estimate of £30 per annum as the average income of a Native family of five living in the reserves and deriving its income therefrom. The report from the High Commission Territories shows a similar situation.

. The Communist Party urge the necessity, in view of the decline of gold and conditions of workers, of considering curtailment of gold .mines according to a plan, worked out so as to restrict the activities primarily of low-grade mines. This, in turn, will increase .;the rate of profit in the industry as a whole and will enable the remaining mines to parry what is regarded to-day as an impossible burden-the provision of civilized jiving standards for their employees.

Mr. Ballinger urges an immediate increase of 6d. per shift; the Natives Representative Council considers that between Is. 6d. and 2s. per shift increase should be aimed at. Mr. Moltcno contends that the increase of the minimum wage up to a figure of over 6s. per shift, payable in cash only, should be an objective, and the Communist Party recommends a minimum wage of £2 per week. The memoranda draw attention to "the immense and unhealthy gaps that exist between skilled and unskilled mining labourers" ; but at the same time most of the memoranda avoid any suggestion of reducing the wages of European mine labourers.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.