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Today in Labour History

6 March 1955
Tom Mboya Monument, Nairobi, Kenya; photo Stephen W. Wanjau
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tom Mboya

Dock workers in Mombasa, Kenya, were engaged in a huge wildcat strike from 3 - 8 March 1955 when the young trade unionist Tom Mboya came to town to try to bring them into the jurisdiction of the trade union federation he was trying to develop. He did well in bargaining with the state and company officials, conveying to them the threat of mass action and convincing them that concessions had to be made. The 30 per cent raise Mboya eventually won convinced the dockworkers that this style of trade unionism had something to add to their own militant tradition, and Mboya helped to organise the Dockworkers Union on a more stable and effective basis. Later, Mboya was instrumental in the formation of the Kenya African National Union.

Read more? Frederick Cooper, 'Port Labour in a colonial  city: Mombasa 1850-1965' in: Dock Workers. International Explorations in Comparative Labour History Vol 1 (Burlington 2000)

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