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White Workers on the Railways

  • Jon Lunn
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series

Abstract

The historiographical consensus of the 1970s was that in the 1920s and 1930s white workers in southern and central Africa decisively broke with non-racial socialism and committed themselves to the defence of the colour bar. State and employer conceded the colour bar to defeat the threat of non-racial socialism and divide the working class. The only area of disagreement amongst historians was over whose interests the colour bar served: state and employer or white worker.1 There were two sides to the colour bar in southern and central Africa. On the one hand, there was the ‘exploitation’ colour bar, the institutional means through which cheap black migrant labour was obtained for white employers. On the other, there were ‘job’ colour bars, which protected white labour from being undercut by cheaper black labour through the designation of skilled work and the bulk of semi-skilled work as for whites only.2

Keywords

Trade Union Labour Party Railway System White Worker Strike Action 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

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    For a survey of the literature on this issue, see S. Dubow, Racial Segregation and the Origins of Apartheid in South Africa, 1919–36 (London, 1989), pp. 56–60; see also F.A. Johnstone, Class, Race and Gold; R.H. Davies, Capital, State and White Labour in South Africa, 1900–60 (Brighton, 1979); H. Wolpe, ‘The White Working Class in South Africa’, Economy and Society, V (1976); I.R. Phimister, ‘The History of Mining in Southern Rhodesia to 1953’ (University of Rhodesia PhD thesis, 1975), pp. 206–39.Google Scholar
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© Jon Lunn 1997

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  • Jon Lunn

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