About the WorkeR history project

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SACTWU’s Worker History Project was launched in mid-January 2008.

With this Project, we intend to enrich the history of our country’s political and socio-economic transformation by building up a wide database of the life stories of ordinary clothing, textile and leather workers and of our union. 

It is a unique contribution to history: allowing ordinary workers to tell their own life stories, showing how, in their own humble way, they have also contributed to positive change in our country. 

This Project also attempts to strengthen solidarity among ordinary workers

...through publishing and sharing their stories more widely than would otherwise have been possible without the networks and resources of the trade union movement. From the outset, it was our objective for these life stories to be published in pamphlets, coffee table books, documentaries, newspapers and on the union website, in a programme to be rolled out over the next few years.

 
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Thus far, we have published, in separate pamphlet booklets and shorter biographies, the stories of 360 workers and shop stewards. Each of these has been enthusiastically welcomed and has in turn unleashed a feverish reading culture among shop stewards and members in our union. By the end of September this year, we had collected more than 400 worker life stories.

WE HAVE STARTED THIS WORKER HISTORY PROGRAMME BY FOCUSING ON THE LIFE STORIES OF OUR SHOP STEWARDS, CURRENT AND PAST. 

Information for this Project was collected in three ways: firstly, through interview and related information collection activities by a Project Co-ordinator; secondly, through ‘one-on-one interviews by SACTWU Student Union (SASU) members and shop stewards and thirdly, through self-administered questionnaires issued by shop stewards to complete. 

We have recently introduced a fourth method: autobiography, where shop stewards and members are encouraged to write their own life stories.