To what extend did the 1922 strike achieve success both in the long and short terms?

Essay by lolzHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2005

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By 1921 capitalist were experiencing major problems. Costs had risen and the price of gold had come down. This was due to the social, economic and political conditions in the country, industrial unrest and severe disturbances in the mining industry. Mines had been closed at several periods during the Anglo-Boer War, which lasted from 1899 until 1902. In the mining industry, a colour bar had developed - only whites could perform supervisory or skilled jobs. After the Anglo-Boer war many unskilled white men that returned from the war unemployed. Later on, the gold price plunged and it was predicted that gold mines would run at a loss unless costs were radically cut. Mine -owners decided to replace the white workers with black workers at reduced wages. These black workers had acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to take on more skilled jobs. Almost 10 000 white mineworkers would have to be discharged.

The colour bar was to be removed and the proportion of black mineworkers was to be increased. This decision pressurized the white mineworkers. Their security and protection was threatened. The period that followed this was characterised by unrest in the mining industry. Smuts government tried but failed to mediate the conflict and white mineworkers decided to strike. By striking they hoped to pressurise mine-owners and the government into withdrawing their policy.

The strike soon spread to other mines and by January 10, 1922 all mining work and related trades had been put on hold. On March 6 a general strike was proclaimed. Before long this broke out into a revolt, led by semi-skilled Afrikaner miners who fought to capture Johannesburg. The Prime Minister, Jan Smuts, proclaimed martial law. He was widely held responsible for letting the situation get out of hand. But the revolt was finally declared...



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