Industrial Conciliation Act of 1934 was a colonial draconian labour law. This piece of legislation excluded blacks and most of its terms protected the white employees’ interests. The act was meant to protect White employees from competition in the labour market by black employees. The Act recognized white workers and established industrial boards comprising of labour unions and employers. Africans could not benefit from this act because they were not recognized as workers.


The 1934 Industrial Conciliation Act (which had the same title as its South African predecessor of 1924) established a dual system in labour relations by the simple device of defining an ‘employee’ as ‘any person engaged by an employer to perform work. . . but was not supposed to include a native. White trade unions then formed industrial councils with white employers and made bargains for their mutual benefit which excluded ‘non-employees’, that is Africans.

Contents of the Act

  • It was illegal for Africans to form trade unions
  • Africans were to provide cheap manual labour
  • Skilled jobs were set aside for whites