South Africa was once an apartheid state; blacks were seen as inferiors in law and harshly oppressed. Employees working at the docks of Australia’s seaports responded by organising their teamwork for the cause of opposing apartheid. In the processes of docking the ships and loading their goods, the workers of each subsequent role delayed their work by one day. It wasn’t a complete boycott of freight to and from South Africa, but a considerable slow down.
This amounted to significant financial loss for those transacting with the racist regime, thereby placing pressure on the South African government to repeal apartheid practice. It was one of a great many factors that ended South African apartheid. Nelson Mandela himself repeated significant thanks to Australia’s dock workers for their efforts.
These dock workers have taken many such initiatives, such as blocking the export of iron headed for army munitions factories, saving lives. It wasn’t easy, their bosses responded bitterly, sending police to remove the disobedient workers. But in unity there is strength, the workers’ non-violent resistance largely bet their bosses attempts to replace them. If the bosses would ever lose profits to ethics, we should celebrate it as a very rare event, against the historical norm.
Such inspiring examples will win hearts and minds to the fact that we need acts of civil disobedience in the workplace to make a better world. This history needs to be told, it needs to be repeated as it regularly does when workers organise themselves. A multidisciplinary team as isolated as this can’t create a Resource Based Economy on its own, but it demonstrates the social values and the method needed to construct one.
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