Change the world


It is fitting for us to go down memory lane to reflect on the path that has been traveled to where we are today! Even though NEHAWU was launched in 1987 its rich history goes further than era. NEHAWU was born out of a merger result between three main unions: the South African Allied Workers’ Union (SAAWU), Health and Allied Workers’ Union (HAWU) and the General and Allied Workers’ Union (GAWU). Two years after the establishment of NEHAWU, the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) dissolved and joined NEHAWU. The objective of the dissolution of TGWU and the merger of SAAWU, HAWU and GAWU was to establish one formidable union that will organize in five different sectors.


SAAWU was established in March 1979 in Durban after a split from the Black Allied Workers’ Union (BAWU). The split was as the result of principle of Black consciousness versus Non- racialism. SAAWU believed in the principle of non-racialism.

HAWU was launched in 1983 this was after the National Federation of Workers’ Union (NFWU) decided to develop industrial unions. Health and education sector workers formed HAWU.

GAWU was established early in 1980 also after spit from the Black Allied Workers’ Union (BAWU). GAWUbelieved in the principle of non-racialism. GAWU was a multi-sector union with members in metal industry, schools, universities and hospitals.

TGWU organized mainly drivers, general workers and cleaners. The majority of its members were at the educational institutions.

All the parent organizations of NEHAWU the SAAWU, HAWU, GAWU and TGWU believed and haveadvanced the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism, equality for all and were against discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religious belief and political affiliation. The Human Rights that are enshrined in the South African Constitution and the Workers’ Rights that are entailed in the different Labour statutes including the Labour Relations Act have been the result of the protracted actions of these workers’ organizations under the umbrella of South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) before 1985 and after 1985 under the umbrella of Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). SACTU was formed in Johannesburg on the 6th of March 1955 and was later launched as COSATU in 1985. These organizations fought for the principles Worker and Human Rights, principles for which icons like Nobel Peace price laureate Nelson Mandela sacrificed most of his life for.