Migrant Labour in South Africa's Mining Economy

Migrant Labour in South Africa's Mining Economy

The Struggle for the Gold Mines' Labour Supply, 1890-1920

eBook - 1985
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McGill Queens Univ Pr
In tracing the development of the recruiting system, Alan Jeeves shows how a large proportion of the labour supply came to be controlled by private labour companies and recruiting agents, who aimed both to exploit the workers and to extract heavy fees from the employing companies. The gold indusry struggled for years against the internal divisions which created the competition for labour, until at last the Chamber of Mines, with the support of the state, succeeded in driving out the private recruiters and centralizing the system under its control. This study of the interests involved in the struggle for control of the black labour supply reveals much about the forces which created and now entrench racial domination in South African's industrial economy.

This book is a study of the origins of migratory labour and racial discrimination in South Africa's premier industry, the gold mines of the Witwatersrand. Based upon government records and private business archives, it examines the highly competitive world of mine labour recruiting at the turn of the century and concludes that this regimented labour system was the product not only of the mining companies but also of political pressures and economic needs in South African society. The systerm was remarkable for the hardship it imposed, for the size of the labour force recruited - more than 200,000 low-wage black labourers were delivered annually to the industry's grim, barrack-like compounds - and for the fact that most of the workers were African pastoralists without previous industrial experience. Forced to work in appalling conditions amid much squalor and disease, more than 50,000 miners died on the Witwatersrand in a single decade.

In tracing the development of the recruiting system, Alan Jeeves shows how a large proportion of the labour supply came to be controlled by private labour companies and recruiting agents, who aimed both to exploit the workers and to extract heavy fees from the employing companies. The gold indusry struggled for years against the internal divisions which created the competition for labour, until at last the Chamber of Mines, with the support of the state, succeeded in driving out the private recruiters and centralizing the system under its control. This study of the interests involved in the struggle for control of the black labour supply reveals much about the forces which created and now entrench racial domination in South African's industrial economy.
This book is a study of the origins of migratory labour and racial discrimination in South Africa's premier industry, the gold mines of the Witwatersrand. Based upon government records and private business archives, it examines the highly competitive world of mine labour recruiting at the turn of the century and concludes that this regimented labour system was the product not only of the mining companies but also of political pressures and economic needs in South African society. The systerm was remarkable for the hardship it imposed, for the size of the labour force recruited - more than 200,000 low-wage black labourers were delivered annually to the industry's grim, barrack-like compounds - and for the fact that most of the workers were African pastoralists without previous industrial experience. Forced to work in appalling conditions amid much squalor and disease, more than 50,000 miners died on the Witwatersrand in a single decade.

Publisher: Kingston [Ont.] : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1985
ISBN: 9780773560925
0773560920
9780773504202
0773504206
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xiv, 323 pages) : illustrations

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