South African Confederation of Labour

The South African Confederation of Labour (SACOL) was a national trade union federation of white workers in South Africa.


The federation was established in 1957, as a loose body bringing together the South African Federation of Trade Unions, the Co-ordinating Council of South African Trade Unions, the Federal Consultative Council of South African Railways and Harbours Staff Associations, and the Trade Union Council of South Africa (TUCSA). TUCSA withdrew in 1958, and the remaining federation was broadly supportive of apartheid.[1]

In 1968, the federation decided to permit individual unions to affiliate. These unions gradually came to operate on an equal footing to the remaining affiliated federations, and this led the Federal Consultative Council to disaffiliate in 1975, although all but one of its own affiliates decided to sign up individually to SACOL. This took the federation's membership to a maximum of 25 unions with 206,511 members.[1]

While the Government of South Africa allowed unions to represent both white and "coloured" workers, and from 1980, black workers as well, SACOL only permitted unions restricted to white workers to affiliate. In 1980, it expelled the South African Technical Officials' Association, after it permitted coloured workers to join, and this led some other affiliates to resign in order to expand their own membership.[1] Membership of the federation then fell steadily. In 1992, its largest remaining affiliate, the Mine Workers' Union, disaffiliated in order to become a general union. The federation was reduced to only five affiliates with 40,280 members.[2]


Union Abbreviation Founded Left Reason not affiliated Membership (1980)[1]
Artisan Staff Association ASA 1924 1976 Disaffiliated 22,500
Blanke Bouwerkersvakbond 1949 After 1995 7,412
Blanke Distribuisiewerkersvereniging 1970s Dissolved N/A
Blanketekstiel Werkers Nywerheids 1970s Dissolved N/A
Die Spoorbond 1933 6,300
Durban Municipal Employees' Society DMES 1919 1980 Disaffiliated 4,000
Explosives and Chemical Workers' Union 1977 Merged into SAEDFOA N/A
Johannesburg Municipal Employees' Association JMEA 1916 1980 Disaffiliated 5,800
Mine Workers' Union MWU 1902 1991 Disaffiliated 17,000
National Association of Furniture and Allied Workers 1961 1980 Disaffiliated 750
OVS Provinsiale Werkersvereeniging 1978 Disaffiliated 243
Pretoriase Vakbond Vir Die Kleinhandel Vleisbedryf PVKV 200
Provinsiale Huishoudlike Personeelvereniging 1978 Disaffiliated 250
Provinsiale Medewerkersvereniging 3,462
South African Association of Municipal Employees SAAME 1919 1980 Transferred to FEDSAL 41,492
South African Diamond Workers' Union SADWU 801
South African Engine Drivers', Firemen's and Operators' Association SAEDFOA 1895 1990 Merged into SABS 7,000
South African Footplate Staff Association SAFSA 1905 1975 Disaffiliated 9,331
South African Iron, Steel and Allied Industries Union SAISAIU 1948 1994 Disaffiliated 38,486
South African Karweierswerknemersvereniging After 1995 465
South African Railways and Harbours Employees' Union SAR&HEU 1924 After 1995 12,381
South African Railways and Harbours Running and Operational Staff Union ROSU 1985 Disaffiliated 7,835
South African Railways and Harbours Salaried Staff Association SALSTAFF 1918 Disaffiliated 27,545
South African Railways Police Staff Association 1981 Disaffiliated 2,922
South African Technical Officials' Association SATOA 1980 Expelled 3,000
Transvaalse Transportwerkers Unie 300
Vereeniging Van Staatsaagmeul And Boswerkers Van South Africa 1981 Dissolved 269
Volkskas Amptenare Vereniging 1980 Disaffiliated 6,770
Vuurhoutjiewekrers Vakbond Van South Africa 1979 Dissolved N/A
West Rand Administration Board Personnel Association 1975 1,102


  1. ^ a b c d Miller, Shirley (1982). Trade Unions in South Africa 1970-1980: a directory and statistics. Cape Town: Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit. ISBN 0799204692.
  2. ^ Special Report of the Director-general on the Application of the Declaration Concerning Action Against Apartheid in South Africa. International Labour Conference. 1993.