1973 Durban Strikes Interactive CD ROM



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1973 Mineworkers Strike CDROM Comments

"The CD ROM is quite impressive and touching. It still amazes me how little I know of the history of South-Africa in spite of the fact that I became politically aware in the period of Boycott Outspan and related initiatives. Keep the good work going!" - Piet Creve, Institute of Social History, Ghent, Belgium

"Thank you very much for the complementary copy of your CD-ROM which you sent to our director. I have had an opportunity to go through most of the material, and have found it to be extremely interesting and informative. Indeed, a valuable resource for our archive which I am sure will be well-used by researchers."- Bonita Bennett, Collections, Research and Documentation Dept, District Six Museum, Cape Town

"Many thanks for your CD ROM on Durban 1973 strikes. We have appreciated the contents representing a mass movement well known at that time also in Europe! Best wishes for your work in reconstructing the historic moments of the trade unions in South Africa."- Giovanni Avonto, President Fondazione Vera Nocentini Archivio e biblioteca storico-sindacale via Barbaroux, Torino

"Many thanks for the great CD-ROM ! We will add it to the Collections so that other students and researchers can view it."- Chris Coates , Librarian TUC Collections, Holloway Road Learning Centre, London Metropolitan University, London

"Thank you for the interesting cd rom you sent me about Durban 1973 strikes."- Francesca Gori, Segretario Generale, Unidea - UniCredit Foundation, UniCredito Italiano, Milan

The South African Labour History Archive project presents:

An interactive CDROM detailing the events of the Durban 1973 Strikes.
The CDROM is available from the South African Labour History Archive.

Please click here to download a BIBLIOGRAPHY of the DURBAN 1973 STRIKES CDROM(PDF)

Please click here for an overview of the strikes. (Flash format)
Please click here to request more information.

The wave of strikes that broke out in Durban 1973 stands out as a formative period of the emergence of the progressive trade union movement in South Africa. The exploration of the strategic decisions made by workers during the Durban 1973 strikes was used to facilitate critical debate into strategic challenges facing labour in the present era. Consequently the LRS submitted a proposal to Olaf Palme International Centre to fund the full investigation of the Durban 1973 era to draw lessons from the profound experiences of the workers who participated in those strikes. We set ourselves the following objectives for the production of the CD ROM:

Project Objectives

  • To promote knowledge and understanding of the Durban Strikes of 1973.
  • To assist in building the present labour movement through popularising the Durban Strikes of 1973.
  • To promote critical debate into strategic challenges facing the working class movement in the present era of globalisation by providing a context in which strategic choices made by the workers movement in Durban can be debated.


The project objectives were achieved through one-to-one interviews with workers and other activist directly involved in the wave of strikes in Durban. The comrades interviewed were also asked to draw lessons from the past that would be beneficial to current trade unionist. To provide an overview of the Durban 1973 strikes, a survey of available material housed in the LRS' Trade Union Library, the Alan Paton Centre Struggle Archive (in Pietermaritzburg) and the University of Cape Town's African Studies Library was conducted. This also allowed for the identification of possible activist and workers as participants for the oral history interviews.

The oral history interviewees were brought together at a workshop on 29 November 2004 at the Workers College in Durban. The 30-minute documentary was presented and the participants were given the space to share their experiences during the period in question. The documentary was seen as a means to unearth the rich heritage that the working class and its organisations/movements have contributed to shape the history of South Africa. During the workshop participants were also shown how the Internet could be utilised as a research tool for further investigations into the Durban 1973 strikes and other historical labour related topics.

The materials collected were consolidated into a 30-minute documentary that provides a historiography of the 1973 strikes, a photo gallery, the video entitled:'The rebirth of the African Trade Unions' and oral history interviews in five vernacular languages which include English, Afrikaans, isi-Zulu, isi-Xhosa and Sesotho. In addition, the documentary poses a set of critical questions to spark debate on current challenges faced by workers.

The CD ROM is produced in multi-media format, which allows for audio as well as visuals to be used as an educational means to discuss the significance of this historic moment in the development of the trade unions in South Africa.