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Dan Tloome (1919 - 1992)

The Order of Luthuli in

Dan Tloome (1919 - 1992) Awarded for:
His exceptional contribution to the struggle for workers’ rights and selfless contribution to the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa.
Profile of Dan Tloome

Dan Tloome was born in Bloemfontein in 1919 where he schooled and graduated from the Modderpoort Anglican Teachers’ Training Institute as a teacher.

When he moved to Johannesburg to be near his family who had moved there, Tloome was deeply moved by the exploitation which he saw all around. He gave up teaching to become an organiser for the Milling Worker’s Union of which he was later elected Secretary.

When the Council of Non-European Trade Unions - a direct forerunner of the South African Congress of Trade Unions and the Congress of South African Trade Unions - was launched in 1941, Tloome was elected as Vice-President. Tloome, realising the connection between worker exploitation and political oppression, became active in the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). He was a founder member of the ANC Youth League in 1945 and in 1949 he was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC.

Tloome’s leadership saw him rise through the ranks of worker organisations. He became a key organiser of the great miners’ strike of 1946 in which nearly 100 000 mineworkers participated. He also became a key figure in the organising of the historic Defiance Campaign of 1952. During the 1950s, Tloome was tried and convicted under the Suppression of Communism Act. Undeterred by State harassment, he became editor of the leftwing journal Liberation.

When he was placed under house arrest in 1963, the then banned SACP took the decision to send Tloome out of the country to promote the work of the movement abroad.

Tloome served the movement diligently in various capacities. He returned to South Africa in 1991 as a member of the ANC’s National Preparatory Committee and took part in the Groote Schuur talks which preceded the Convention for a Democratic South Africa negotiations.

Tloome was a pioneer trade unionist who dedicated his life to realise the ideals of a non-racial trade union movement and freedom.