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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 6. 4th April 1973

British Students Call for Share Boycott

British Students Call for Share Boycott

The British National Union of Students is campaigning to force British universities to give up any shares they have in South African companies or British companies with interests in South Africa. Following the recent exposures in the "Guardian" and other papers of starvation rates being paid by British companies, action groups are being organised in about half the country's 45 universities and university colleges.

At Manchester University the Students Union has decided that if the University Council does not agree in principle to give up its shares in South Africa at its next meeting in May, students will take disruptive action. Manchester University has more than 12 million invested in South Africa.

The Students Union at the University of London's Institute of Education, representing 19,000 students, has called for a campaign in all colleges of education to ask London boroughs to sell any shares they have in British companies with subsidiaries in South Africa.

On the evening of Sharpeville Day the West London Anti-Apartheid Group joined with students to deliver a letter to the Mayor of Chelsea and Kensington protesting at the Royal Borough Council's investments in Consolidated Gold Fields Ltd. ($40,000) and Bowaters Papers Corporation ($10,000). "Consolidated Gold Fields", the letter stated, "are notorious even in South Africa for the dangerous conditions under which their employees work and live . . . From 1936 to 1966 19,000 men were killed in their mines, 93% of them black. In 1971, 524 blacks and 21 whites were killed and 25,000 blacks and 2,000 whites were disabled for 14 days or longer. In spite of the dangers and discomforts, the pay for black miners, who work a 60 hour week, is a mere $10 a month. They have to be contract-migrant workers, living on the job in concrete sheds with bunks all round the walls. Their appallingly low wage is sent home to support their wives and children.

"Bowaters Paper Corporation made 700 workers redundant in Kent and Cheshire immediately prior to expanding new works at Mere Bank, near Durban in 1971, through their subsidiary, the Mondi Paper Company"

"It behoves all of us, and our elected representatives in particular to consider what is more important to consider what is more important, greater profits and the continuation of near slavery, wherever it may occur, or human decency".

Both these companies have financial interests in New Zealand. Consolidated Gold Fields of Australia owns Zip Industries of New Zealand and the British parent company's strong links with South Africa (which go back to the days of Cecil Rhodes) are no doubt the reason why Zip exports domestic appliances to South Africa. Bowaters own about 17% of the shares in the Tasman Pulp & Paper Company, as does Reed, another British company found to be paying its African employees starvation wages.

Apartheid: Don't be an Armchair Critic!


It's easy for New Zealanders to say they're against apartheid, and joining a demonstration doesn't cost us anything either. In South Africa it's a different story: the protestor may get a police baton on his head, and if he works to change the apartheid system he may end up in gaol. Why not put your money where your mouth is, and back Up those who suffer for their opposition to racism in Southern Africa, with a donation to:

The Defence and Aid Fund

We are paying legal fees, making grants to prisoners' dependents, helping Rhodesian detainees to carry on their education, publishing literature . . . will you help us?' Send your money, asking for our information pamphlets and bi-monthly Newsletter to:

The Secretary, Defence and Aid, P. O. Box 27125, Wellington. (Please enclose this advertisement in your letter).

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