Comrades mourn loss of pioneering union leader Amon Ntuli
By Quinton Mtyala 25m ago
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Cape Town – Pioneering trade unionist Amon Ntuli, instrumental in organising and later unifying textile and clothing sector workers, has passed away. Ntuli was 63.
In a double tragedy for his family, Ntuli’s death came a few days after his wife of 36 years, Gloria, passed away.
Originally from Swayimane in KwaZulu-Natal, Ntuli started working as a textile worker at the Frame Textiles in Pinetown where he would lead workers as a shop steward. Ntuli was one of the leaders of the 1973 Durban strikes where he rose to national prominence.
Businessman Johnny Copelyn, who was also a union organiser, at the time, says: “I was very closely associated with him for 45 years. He was a very charismatic leader.”
Copelyn added that Ntuli was focused on the unity of workers. He was instrumental in the formation of Cosatu and the amalgamation of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union of South Africa (Actwusa), of which he had been the inaugural president, and Garment Workers Union which would form the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) where he was also the first president..
“In those initial days he was about drawing everyone in about the merged union,” says Copelyn.
Ntuli later served on the board of Hosken Consolidated Investments, and was until recently a director of Deneb Investments until he retired in August 2020, due to ill health.
“He was a very generous personality. It’s a terrible loss. A great colleague and a friend,” said Copelyn of his comrade.
Sactwu general secretary Andre Kriel, in a statement, said: “Internationally, he also served as a Vice President of the International Textile, Garment & Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), a founding international of the now IndustriAll Global Union”.
Ntuli had also been a chairperson of Edufundi, a social outreach programme of Sactwu which provides numeracy and literacy skills development to thousands of underprivileged learners and educators in pre- and primary schools in various parts of our country.
“In the run up to the democratisation of our country, he helped to lead the historic Worker Charter Campaign, which resulted in key worker rights (such as the right to strike) finally being enshrined in the South African constitution and protected in our Bill of Rights,” said Kriel.
While he embraced modernity, his former colleagues said he remained passionate about his rural roots.