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Dunbar, Andrew (1879–1964)

Lucien van der Walt

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Southern Africa » South Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, labor, labor movements, revolution, socialism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00487.x


Andrew B. Dunbar was a South African trade union leader and syndicalist in the early twentieth century. Born in Scotland in 1879, and trained as a blacksmith, Dunbar arrived in South Africa in 1906, where he worked on the Natal railways. A giant of a man, with strongly held views, Dunbar first gained prominence for his role in leading a strike by 2,500 railway workers: the strike was defeated after two weeks, and Dunbar was dismissed. Moving to Johannesburg, he worked on the tramways, was briefly involved in the South African Labor Party (SALP), joined the Johannesburg Socialist Society, and moved to a revolutionary syndicalist position along the lines of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) . In June 1910, with the help of fellow tramway worker Thomas Glynn, Dunbar managed to take control of the newly formed Industrial Workers' Union, sponsored by the Witwatersrand Trades and Labor Council, and transform it into a local IWW. The local IWW was prominent in leading two strikes on the tramways in 1911, and subsequently spread to Durban and Pretoria, but in 1912 Dunbar was ousted from his position as IWW general secretary by his rival, Archie Crawford, a state socialist, and expelled; the union collapsed the following year. Dunbar remained active in socialist circles and was a founder member of the revolutionary syndicalist International Socialist League formed in 1915, where ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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