The biggest British based employer of African labour in South Africa, Consolidated Gold Fields, has been accused of earning immoral dividends from the exploitation of black African labour.
SV & CU Ward talks with Monseigneur Bruce Kent
SV 7 CU Ward talks with Ronald McCall
TRANSCRIPT: SEQ. 1: WARD: "Monseigneur Kent, you've been involved in something of a public row with Consolidated Goldfields which produces twenty per cent of South Africa's gold output. Could you tell us what the basis of this row is?
KENT: "I would say the basis was the concern our diocese had as shareholders that people working for us and making money would be properly treated and so I asked certain questions at the AGM about the conditions especially for African miners working through the Consolidated subsidiaries at the time."
WARD: "What were your basic complaints about the labour system in South Africa?"
KENT: "I think the labour system, and that because the whole structure of society involves a division of races on a territorial basis, that it must break up families and it does. If people are away from their wives and children for ten or nine months a year it's extremely bad for them."
WARD: "Do you think that some of these Company dividends are immoral based on the labour system?"
KENT: "Well I think anybody who profits unreasonably out of other peoples' sweat and other peoples' risk of life -- yes I think immoral is not too strong a word."
SEQ. 2: WARD: "Mr. McCall, a church leader has accused Consolidated Gold under your chairmanship of making immoral dividends out of South African gold produced by migratory black labour. What do you have to say about that?"
McCALL: "Specifically on the points he made. What I said was this. That the migratory labour system is one which I don't say we like or would choose but it is the system in operation."
WARD: "Given that there are present difficulties, is Consolidated Gold doing anything active to find out how black labourers' families would feel on the mines in South Africa?"
McCALL: "Yes I would like to see them being changed and indeed they are being changed. Now so far as we are concerned as a group we have stated publicly that what we would like to see would be a far greater proportion of labour working on the mine living with their families and we are striving to achieve this."
WARD: Would you agree in principle given the present difficulties that it would be a good thing some time in the future to have a man paid a rate for a job regardless of colour and to be allowed promotion in that job again without reference to colour?"
McCALL: "Without any question."
WARD: "Have you taken any positive steps towards bringing this about?"
McCALL: "We have black men on the mines who are receiving in excess of some Europeans. The answer's yes."
Initials BB/2235 AB/MR/BB/2300
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Background: The biggest British based employer of African labour in South Africa, Consolidated Gold Fields, has been accused of earning immoral dividends from the exploitation of black African labour. Monseigneur Bruce Kent, a priest in London's Westminster diocese, made the accusations.
He made the attack at the company's general meeting. Monseigneur Kent was representing the Church's 30,000 pound sterling (about 60,000 US dollar) investment in the company as a shareholder.
In addition to poor pay and working conditions the priest said that black Africans had to live away from their families for about nine months of the year which broke up the family in many cases.
On Tuesday (25 November) he spoke to Visnews reporter William Ward. Ward also put the accusations to the Company's chairman Mr. Ronald McCall. Both interviews are included on the film. A transcript follows overleaf.
Answering Monseigneur Kent's attack Mr. McCall said that although his company did not like the present migratory labour system in South Africa it was a fact of life -- but one that the company was striving to change.
He said his company had publicly stated its concern and would like to see a far greater proportion of mine workers living with their families. He also pointed out that many black Africans in company mines were being paid more than Europeans.