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Paulus, Petrus Jacobus “Arrie” (b. 1930)

Wessel P. Visser

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics apartheid, bibliography, labor unions, revolution, rights

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01166.x


Petrus Paulus was a renowned leader of the segregationist South African Mineworkers' Union (SAMWU), and the personification of the union in apartheid South Africa during the 1970s and early 1980s. Born in 1930 in Pretoria, he completed his high school education at Herculus High, in a white working-class Pretoria suburb. After his studies, he worked as a clerk at the Herculus Municipality, and thereafter for seven years at ISCOR, the state steel company. In 1954, Paulus enrolled at the West Rand Mining School as a learner miner. A year and a half later, he started work underground at the West Rand Consolidated gold mine as a stoper, and later as a developer. He also worked at the Luipaar-dsvlei and Libanon gold mines and the Rusten-burg platinum mine. As a rock breaker, he earned a large salary due to the incentive system applied at the time to white workers and foremen. In 1964, Paulus came to prominence as secretary of an Action Committee formed within the ranks of the SAMWU. The Action Committee was formed to oppose an experiment in work restructuring that would improve the incomes of white miners, but also entail the substitution of certain categories of white underground supervisors by Africans. A period of bitter instability and infighting ensued in SAMWU ranks, which almost caused the collapse of the union. However, Paulus's group, which took its stand on SAMWU's traditional ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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