Scottish Trade Unionists in the Diaspora

Today is May Day – an opportune moment to think about some of the contributions Scottish trade unionists have made in the diaspora. To South Africa, for example, some Scots brought with them their ideas of trade unionism and the organisation of labour, becoming heavily involved in the South African labour movement, as well as the syndicalist movement. The most notable of the syndicalists was James Thompson Bain. Born in Dundee in 1860, Bain had joined the British Army at an early age and was sent to Pretoria in the late 1870s, fighting alongside Boer soldiers against the Zulus. Bain went on to serve in India in the early 1880s, before returning to Scotland for a while. It was there that his interest in the labour movement was first honed. …