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This book on SACCAWU’s 30-year history of struggle is dedicated to all those who contributed to building this great organisation, and to building the broader democratic trade union movement in South Africa … The struggles of the future are shaped by our histories. I hope this book will inspire all participants in labour relations, both unionists and management, in creating a basis for work and the sharing of rewards in a way that serves all.

— JayendraNaidoo, from the Foreword

Book information

By KallyForrest

ISBN: 978-1-919855-63-9

Trim size: 245 x 170mm

Binding: Paperback

Page count: 172

Imagery: Black and white photographs

Price: R275.00

Genre: Politics



The history of modern Black, non-racial trade unions in South Africa is about both a struggle to change workplace conditions and a struggle against white domination. This history of SACCAWU and its predecessor CCAWUSA from 1975–2005 traces the details of this impressive struggle.

This book draws on trade union documents, newspapers and commentaries of the time to chart that compelling journey. It also gives a voice to many SACCAWU unionists –past and present –who provide a rich picture of a union that affected the lives of thousands of shop, hotel, restaurant and financial workers. Early struggles to recruit, win union recognition and the right to bargain, attain decent working conditions and a living wage are powerfully presented in this book.

Asijiki also charts the complex challenges that the union faced in the 1990s – and still faces – and looks critically at how it has attempted to manage them. It thus provides useful information for those interested in labour matters to understand the nature of unionism in South Africa today and to develop strategies to take trade union struggles forward.

This is a book rich in analytical material and fascinating detail; it makes an important contribution to the history of the struggle for freedom in South Africa and can be seen as a valuable contribution to the struggles that shop workers have waged all over the world to better their conditions and free themselves from exploitation.


Kally Forrest