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The Act is known as the Riotous Assemblies and Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1914.
This Act applies to all workers, irrespective of race or colour.
I would go into a small tailoring shop, where I needed no introduction, and approach a worker to check his or her wages and hours of work. I think I was born ten years after the Turkish war". "This question was important in order to establish whether he had five years' experience and was entitled to the wage rate of a qualified man, or was still a learner.
In the friendliest manner I would ask for the full name. Knowing a little about European history, I guessed that he was born in 1887."What work are you doing? The retort would often be: "Why do you ask such silly questions? After a little effort, we would mutually agree that he was not born with a needle or scissors in his hand, but had started in the tailoring industry at the age of ten or eleven, somewhere in Poland or Lithuania. I have also to support myself, and, if I told you the truth and my boss got to know, I'd soon get the, sack and who would give me a job then?
Sometimes the employer would chip in and answer for the worker, saying: "Oh, he gets the proper wage". I know that the union is trying to do its best to help us, but what can I do? I know that under the agreement I am entitled to £8 a week, but I only receive half that amount. Above all, we had to gain the confidence of the workers and bring pressure to bear upon delinquent employers in order to intimidate them and make them become law-abiding.
Finally, there is the question of the enforcement of the laws.
All South African labour laws have objectionable features which cause bitter resentment among the workers, and nearly all of them are punitive in character.
Before Union each of the four provinces in South Africa enacted its own laws.
The authorities and the police have always acted with promptness, efficiency and rigour when prosecuting workers, but the enforcement of the provisions of the various laws which accorded workers In seeking to secure for the garment workers the rights they were entitled to by law, the union concentrated on three main objectives: -(a) The enforcing of the provisions of existing agreements by prosecutions;(b) repeated applications to the Wage Board to fix uniform wages and conditions of employment for the clothing industry on a national basis, thus eliminating unfair competition from coastal areas (Cape Town, Durban, etc.);(c) A campaign, in co-operation with other unions and with the South African Trades and Labour Council, for improved and more up-to-date labour legislation.
The enforcement of agreements through prosecutions was not simple.
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Smuts, who introduced it, could never rid himself entirely of the feudal conception of the "master and servant" society and it was his belief that workers on strike were criminals who disturbed law and order.