Trades Union Congress 1900
See the original
CHINESE LABOUR IN SOUTH
Mr W. SHARROCKS
Boiler Makers) proposed a resolution as follows:–
That this Congress protests and condemns the proposal
Cecil Rhodes to import Chinese labour into South Africa
with a view to enriching himself and the Chartered
Company, at the expense and to the detriment of British
subjects both here and in South Africa, and that a copy
of this resolution be sent to the Rt.
Hon. the Marquis of Salisbury, the Rt.
Hon. A. J. Balfour and the Rt.
Hon. J. Chamberlain.
Mr. SHARROCKS expressed
the opinion that Cecil Rhodes should be shifted bag and
baggage out of South Africa, and a better condition of
affairs would prevail there than did at present.
Mr. BONNER (Southampton House Decorators) seconded the
motion. The action of Mr. Rhodes clearly showed that our
object in going to South Africa was not to secure equal
rights for white men, but to bring down the standard of
wages. They did not find these people fighting in England
to give men a vote or in Ireland for Home Rule. He said
the conditions of labour were much better in the Transvaal
than in other parts of South Africa, but apparently the
capitalists did not get as much out of human labour as
they thought they were entitled to, and Mr.
Chamberlain had manipulated the machinery of this
country in order to help a few cosmopolitan Jews in South
Councillor T SHAW (Sheffield Typographical Association),
though in favour of the motion, strongly protested against
muzzling those who had something to say on the opposite
side. They had nothing to say, but they might as well
be allowed to say it.
The CHAIRMAN replied that when a motion was proposed
he was bound to put it.
The proposition that the vote be now put was carried,
and Mr Sharrocks' resolution
was then declared to be carried by a very large majority.
: It seems that the TUC's
opposition to migrant labour was at least partially responsible
for the later apartheid
system in South Africa. Protecting
against an influx of Chinese
workers led to the Mines
and Works Act 1911
which formalised the colour bar in
South Africa, and ultimately to the legalised racial segregation
in 1948. The irony is that it was then vehemently opposed
by the same TUC which had inadvertently played a part in
its creation, albeit an indirect and unintentional one.
As for the reference to “cosmopolitan Jews”,
in the Autumn of 1900 the Unionist government fought
a general election principally on the issue of the
war in South Africa. J
A Hobson, the Manchester
Guardian's correspondent in Johannesburg,
maintained that the conflict was being manipulated by
capitalist interests. His account of the war referred
to "a small group of international financiers, chiefly
German in origin and Jewish in race."
This theme was picked up at the TUC Conferences that
William attended in September
1900. There were numerous references to taxpayers' money
being used in South Africa in the interests of "a
number of cosmopolitan Jews, most of whom had no patriotism
or country." In short, it was an early manifestation
of the 'world
Jewish conspiracy' theory.
Party attitudes to Jews, 1900-1950 by Harry Defries,
Anglo-Boer War and the Issue of Jewish Culpability
by Claire Hirshfield and The
War in South Africa: its Causes and Effects by J A