chapter  7
34 Pages

The Durban strikes

The Durban strikes began on 9 January 1973 with the strike at Coronation Brick and Tile Works, a brickworks on the outskirts of Durban. At three o'clock that morning the workers in the compound of the Number One plant were woken by a group of their fellow-workers and told to gather at the football stadium instead of reporting for work. A deputation was sent to the outlying depots and persuaded the workers there to join them at the football field. 'A high-spirited and positive response marked this early phase of the strike', the Institute for Industrial Education reports. 'Not one man from the main plant ignored the call to strike; workers from the Avoca plant marched to the stadium in two long columns .... When they finally surged through the stadium gates, they were chanting "Filumuntu Ufesadikiza", meaning "Man is dead but his spirit still lives'" (lIE, 1974, p. 10). In total some 1,500 to 2,000 workers joined the strike. Only one incident of 'intimidation' was reported. Five men started to leave the stadium during the mass meeting. 'Threatening gestures' were made by the workers around them, whereupon they sat down again (ibid.).