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Sachs, Solly (1900–1976)

Lucien van der Walt

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, communism, labor unions, revolution, strikes

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01298.x


Born Emil Solomon Sachs in Kamaai, Lithuania, Solly Sachs immigrated with his family to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1914. Along with his brother Bernard, he joined the revolutionary syndicalist International Socialist League in 1919, and was a leading figure in the Reef Shop Assistants' Union, a union that lasted until 1926. In the meantime, he joined the Young Communist League of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) , studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, and visited the Soviet Union in 1925. In 1926, he was elected to the executive committee of the South African Trade Union Congress, formed the previous year, followed by a position in 1927 as secretary of the Witwatersrand Middlemen Tailors' Association, and a position as secretary of the Garment Workers' Union in 1928. It is for his role in the Garment Workers' Union that Sachs is best known. The union organized in the growing garment industry, organizing Afrikaner women, African men, and Colored and Indian workers. While Sachs tried to unite the workers, legal requirements and popular attitudes meant that the Colored and Indian members were enrolled in a “No. 2” branch, and the African men in a separate South African Clothing Workers' Union. These bodies cooperated, and the Garment Workers' Union held several strikes, including general strikes in 1931 and 1932. Sachs sought, whenever possible, to make use ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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