• Solidarity (South African trade union)

  • Not to be confused with Solidarity (South African political party) .

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    Solidarity (Afrikaans : Solidariteit) is a

    South African trade union that negotiates on behalf of its members and attempts to protect workers' rights. Although the union is often involved in issues of political import, it does not align or formally affiliate itself with any political party. Solidarity is a trade union within the Christian tradition of unionism . This differentiates it from the majority of other South African trade unions that have socialist ideologies. Solidarity has a broader focus than workers' rights and includes defending civil rights for its members.

    The union has positioned itself as a vehicle for minorities in South Africa to have their voices heard. Its membership is mainly, but not exclusively, Afrikaners .


    Solidarity is one of the oldest independent trade unions in South Africa. Its origins go back to 1902 and the mines on the Witwatersrand. The current union emerged from the Mine Workers' Union in 2002. [2] :490 During this time, several other unions, including the South African Workers' Union, joined forces with the Mine Workers' Union. The union's name was first changed to MWU-Solidarity and later to just "Solidarity".

    In 1997, when Solidarity's current general secretary, Flip Buys, was appointed, the union was in dire financial straits. The extreme right-wing views associated with the union had led to a dramatic decline in popularity and membership: the union had only about 30 000 members left at that stage. [3] Since the beginning of Flip Buys' term, the membership had increased to more than 130 000 by 2009. [2] :490 The union has more than 17 offices throughout the country and a staff complement of about 300 serve the members. The union also has about 2 000 shop stewards at different companies.

    Solidarity affiliated with the

    Confederation of South African Workers' Unions (CONSAWU) in 2006. Through this affiliation Solidarity is represented at the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Through membership of ITUC, the union gains access to labour dialogue at an international level.

    Core labour union functions

    Solidarity is organised in the aviation, chemical, professional services, telecommunication, electrical, metal and engineering, mining, medical and agricultural sectors. Solidarity's legal division with 34 staff members is the largest of its kind at any labour union in South Africa. The union represents its members in CCMA cases as well as in cases brought before the Labour Court.

    Aviation, chemical, and professional services sector

    This sector, which combines Solidarity's chemical and general sectors, has shown a steep rise in membership. Solidarity represents employees in the chemical industry at companies like Sasol, PetroSA, AEL and in the glass industry. In the aviation sector Solidarity is mainly involved at Airlink, Air Traffic Navigation Services and SAA Technical. Solidarity professional services represents members at a large number of diverse companies that are involved in everything from agricultural research, universities and colleges to companies in the financial sector. At the moment (2009) growth is strongly focused in the medical sector where the union focuses specifically on nursing personnel.

    Metal and engineering sector

    The metal and engineering sector is the sector that accounts for the largest chunk of Solidarity's membership. The union is organised at companies like

    ArcelorMittal , Denel and Highveld Steel.

    Mining and agricultural sector

    Solidarity is rooted in the mining industry, as its origins lie in the Mine Workers' Union that was founded in 1913. Solidarity is active in the gold, platinum, copper, chrome, coal, iron ore, other base metals and the diamond mining sectors. Solidarity's agriculture arm is organised at all of the large agricultural co-operatives and agri-businesses, as well as at the large cement producers in the country.

    Electrical and telecommunication sector

    Solidarity is organised in this sector, mainly at the national electricity provider, Eskom and at the large telecommunication company, Telkom. Solidarity takes part in the debate about the shortage of electricity in South Africa and the skills shortages at Eskom.


    In 2013, Solidarity sued the Department of Correctional Services on behalf of one white and four coloured Correctional Services officials in the Western Cape who alleged they were denied promotions due to the department's employment equity policy. [4] The department set its employment equity targets based on national demographics, but coloured and white people make up 49% and 16% of the population of the Western Cape respectively, while each form only 9% of the national population. [5] This makes it more difficult for white and coloured employees in the Western Cape to gain promotions than a policy which set different employment equity targets for each province. Solidarity called the policy "irrational". [6] Another five applicants were later added to the case. [7]

    The ANC in the Western Cape called the suit an "attack on employment equity", and accused the applicants of "stirring up racial antagonism between Africans and coloureds".[6]

    Additional operations

    The "Solidarity Movement" originated from the trade union and includes several organisations. [8]

    Solidarity Helping Hand

    A Helping Hand volunteer unloads donated food in Welkom .

    The Solidarity Helping Hand is a social responsibility organisation that, though started by Solidarity, is an independent entity that functions on its own, separate from the union. It does however receive financial support from the union's members. It is registered as a Section 21 company (not-for-profit). It focuses specifically on supporting communities that have limited access to state support. The two areas where the Helping Hand operates intensively is Pretoria and environs and in Cape Town. Nevertheless, the Helping Hand actively expands into many other areas. As of June 2010, there were 32 other smaller regional branches throughout the country.[9] The Helping Hand focuses on assisting destitute Afrikaans-speaking people, but not to the exclusion of individuals from other cultural groups.

    The Helping Hand has five main projects: A bursary scheme, an emergency fund, child projects, donations of living essentials and feeding schemes. Helping Hand requires millions of rands each year to keep these social support projects running. The money is received mainly from individuals, but also partly from donations by companies.

    During 2007, more than R1 million was disbursed in the form of bursaries to 100 students. In 2008, the Helping Hand also took control of the administration of the Rapport Education Fund (Rapport Onderwysfonds ).


    An AfriForum protest in Pretoria against the destruction of a Great Trek monument in Standerton .

    Main article: AfriForum

    AfriForum, an independent initiative of Solidarity, is an organisation [10][11][12]

    [13][14][15][16][17] in South Africa linked to the Solidarity trade union.[18] It was established in 2006 to encourage the re-engagement of the Afrikaners and other minorities in the public sphere. [19] It promotes the protection of Afrikaner culture , [20] and has opposed renaming streets and

    affirmative action . AfriForum has attracted significant controversy because of its views, especially denial that Apartheid was a crime against humanity . [21][22][23][24]

    According to AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, AfriForum is a civil rights initiative to mobilise civil society and specifically minority communities, in order to take part in democratic debate. Kriel further stated that AfriForum would like to achieve balance in South Africa. “True democracy needs alternative voices in order to succeed. While we aren’t a political party, we give alternative ideas and suggestions, where applicable, to the government stance.” [25] AfriForum's claim to be a civil rights organisation has been questioned in the South African media, [26][27][28][29] and South African and international media often characterize Afriforum as a white nationalist or white supremacist group. [30][31][32][33][34]

    The Growthfund

    Solidarity started the Growthfund in 2008 with the objective of collecting R100 million for the empowerment of the Afrikaans community. The eventual goal is to collect more than R500 million from the Afrikaans community, for the Afrikaans community. Solidarity's members also each contribute around R10 per month to the fund as part of their membership dues.

    At the moment, the Growthfund's projects focus on training and education. A new Afrikaans technical college (an expanded version of Sol-Tech), the largest Afrikaans correspondence-college in South Africa and a multi-million rand bursary fund for scarce and critical skills are planned for the future. Solidarity bases the Growthfund project on the Helpmekaar (English: Help one another) movement of 1916, the Reddingsdaadbond that followed, the Economic Congresses and the founding of many companies like

    Santam , Sanlam and Volkskas that, historically, were Afrikaner-empowerment projects.


    Some of Sol-Tech's students at the old campus in Centurion, Gauteng.

    In 2006 Solidarity started an Afrikaans technical college in Centurion. This college offers young people training in technical areas like vehicle mechanics, electronics, fitting and turning, and others. The college has since moved to larger premises in Hermanstad in Pretoria West and has been able to enroll more students than before.

    Express Employment Professionals

    [ citation needed]

    Solidarity owns several franchises of Express Employment Professionals, an international personnel agency. This enables the union to attempt to find work for its members who are without jobs.

    Maroela Media

    Maroela Media is a site publishing Afrikaans news articles. It focuses on topics of concern to the Solidarity movement's membership.


    S-Leer is a training centre providing CPD training.


    Akademia is a private tertiary institution, providing distance learning in Afrikaans.

    Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge

    The Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge ("Federation of Afrikaans Cultural Associations") is a non-profit, non-governmental Afrikaans cultural organisation.


    SBM is the investment arm of the trade union and manages businesses that provide additional services to members.

    Kraal publishers

    Kraal publishers ("Kraal Uitgewers") focuses on publishing books on South African history.


    1. ^ "WHO WE ARE – SOLIDARITY TODAY" . solidaritysa.co.za . Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2008.

    2. ^ a b Pretorius, Fransjohan (2014).

    A History of South Africa: From the Distant Past to the Present Day . Hatfield, Pretoria: Protea Book House.

    ISBN 978-1-86919-908-1 .

    3. ^ Visser, WP. 2002. Van MWU tot Solidariteit; Geskiedenis van die Mynwerkersunie, 1902 tot 2002 .

    ISBN 978-0-620-42142-3

    4. ^ Raubenheimer, Graeme. "AA lawsuit underway" , Eyewitness News, South Africa, 24 April 2013. Retrieved on 13 May 2013.

    5. ^ Census 2011: Census in brief

    (PDF). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa. 2012.

    ISBN 9780621413885. Archived

    (PDF) from the original on 13 May 2015.

    6. ^ a b Phakathi, Bekezela.

    "Solidarity court bid 'stirring up racial antagonism'" , BDlive , South Africa, 30 April 2013. Retrieved on 13 May 2013.

    7. ^ Raubenheimer, Graeme.

    "Solidarity takes Correctional Services to court" , Eyewitness News, South Africa, 25 April 2013. Retrieved on 13 May 2013.

    8. ^ https://solidariteit.co.za/en/who-are-we/

    9. ^ Helping Hand website. http://www.helpendehand.co.za/?page_id=66 [permanent dead link ] Accessed on: 1 June 2010

    10. ^ ANA. "AfriForum gears up to tackle Grace Mugabe in court" .

    The Citizen. Retrieved 24 May 2018.

    11. ^ Wallen, Joe (18 March 2018).

    "Farmers in South Africa say they are being attacked, raped and killed – but it's being ignored" .

    The Independent. Retrieved 13 May 2018.

    12. ^ Cole, Brendan (20 March 2018).

    "Race row sparked after South African government proposes to redistribute land" . Newsweek . Retrieved 13 May 2018.

    13. ^ Lyster, Rosa (9 May 2018). "The creeping spectre of "white genocide" " . The Outline . Retrieved 12 May 2018.

    14. ^ "White Nationalist Group Claims that LGBTI Rainbow Flag is Offensive and Could be Banned in South Africa" . Eikon . 4 April 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018.

    15. ^ Grootes, Stephen. "Analysis: Inkatha Freedom Party, AfriForum and the decline of identity politics | Daily Maverick" . Daily Maverick . Retrieved 12 May 2018.

    16. ^ " 'Traitors of the volk' trash AfriForum – The Citizen" .

    citizen.co.za . Retrieved 12 May 2018.

    17. ^ "AfriForum 'hijacking the Afrikaner mainstream' " .

    News24 . Retrieved 12 May 2018.

    18. ^ "AfriForum And Solidarity's 'Parallel State' " . Huffington Post South Africa. 31 January 2017.

    19. ^ Visser, Wessel P. "From MWU To Solidarity – A Trade Union Reinventing Itself" (PDF). University Of Stellenbosch. p. 20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014.

    20. ^ "AfriForum and the rise of the new right" . Thought Leader. Retrieved 14 January 2014.

    21. ^ "South African group under fire for lobbying US for white rights" .

    www.aljazeera.com .

    22. ^ "Who is AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel?" . Times Live.

    23. ^ " 'Apartheid was not a crime against humanity': AfriForum CEO's remark sparks outrage" . Times Live.

    24. ^ "No-one can and should deny the brutality of apartheid" . IOL News.

    25. ^ "Afrikaner aspirations: An hour with AfriForum's Kallie Kriel" .

    thoughtleader.co.za .

    26. ^ "Don't exaggerate, Sisulu asks AfriForum" . News24.

    27. ^ "AfriForum can't spot the irony in its own whiny argument" . The Citizen.

    28. ^ "Apartheid not a crime against humanity – AfriForum CEO" . Sowetan.

    29. ^ "Mampara of the week: Kallie Kriel" . Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    30. ^ "South African group under fire for lobbying US for white rights" .

    www.aljazeera.com . Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    31. ^ Chothia, Farouk (1 September 2018). "The groups playing on the fears of a 'white genocide' " .

    BBC News. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    32. ^ Bort, Ryan (23 August 2018).

    "Trump Is Using a White Nationalist Conspiracy Theory to Inform Policy" . Rolling Stone . Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    33. ^ "Trump's tweet echoing white nationalist propaganda about South African farmers, explained" . Vox. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    34. ^ Msimang, Sisonke. "South Africa's Afriforum and Trump's kiss of death" .

    www.aljazeera.com . Retrieved 7 November 2018.

    External links

    Official website

    Solidarity's Blog (in Afrikaans)

    AfriForum's website Available in Afrikaans and English

    Solidarity Helping Hand's website Available in Afrikaans and English

    Sol-Tech's website Available in Afrikaans and English

    Express Personnel's website Available in English

    Institute for Constitutional and Labour Law Studies' website Available in Afrikaans and English

    Afrinetwerk's website Available in Afrikaans and Dutch

    Consawu's website Available in English

    ITUC's website Available in English, German, French and Spanish

    Further reading

    Visser, WP. 2002. Van MWU tot Solidariteit; Geskiedenis van die Mynwerkersunie, 1902 tot 2002 .

    ISBN 978-0-620-42142-3

    Visser, WP. 2006. From MWU to Solidarity; A trade union reinventing itself. South African Journal of Labour Relations, 30(2), 2006, pp. 19–41

    Hermann, Dirk. 2007. The Naked Emperor; Why affirmative action failed . Protea Book House.

    ISBN 978-1-86919-143-6 (Originally published in Afrikaans as: Die Keiser is Kaal; Hoekom regstellende aksie misluk het. ISBN 978-1-86919-142-9 )

    Organized labour portal

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