William H. Andrews (unionist)
William Henry Andrews (20 April 1870, Suffolk – 1950), commonly known as Bill Andrews, was the first chairman of the South African Labour Party (SALP) and the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa. He was also active in the formation of the Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union.
Born in England, Andrews joined the Amalgamated Society of Engineers in 1890. He travelled to Johannesburg in 1890, holding jobs on goldmines in the West Rand in the 1890s. Increasingly prominent as a trade union organizer, he became the official South African organizer of the ASE, the president of the Witwatersrand Trades and Labour Council and the Political Labour League in 1905, the Labour Representation Committee in 1906 and the South African Labour Party in 1909.
In the 1912 Georgetown by-election Andrews was elected a Labour MP. In 1915 he was elected the first president of the International Socialist League, which formed when anti-war socialists split from the SALP. He visited Britain in 1918, where he was impressed by the British shop stewards' movement. In 1921 he became the first general secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa, and in 1922 the editor of the party's newspaper The International. In 1925 he was elected the first secretary of the South African Trade Union Congress.
- Wessel Visser, 'Exporting Trade Unionism and Labour Politics: the British Influence on the early South African Labour Movement', New Contree 49 (2005), 145-62
- R. K. Cope, Comrade Bill. The Life and Times of W. H. Andrews, Workers' Leader, Cape Town, 1943.
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|General Secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa
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