The birth of the Industrial and Commercial Union of South Africa (ICU) came about after the ICU strike in Cape Town when African labour leader, H Selby Msimang convened a general meeting in Bloemfontein, with the blessing of the SANNC. Present at the meeting were delegates from the ICU, the Cape Town branch of the IWA and worker’s movements in Port Elizabeth, East London and Aliwal North, and Charlotte Maxeke of the Bantu Women’s League of South Africa.
The delegates at the Bloemfontein conference resolved to form a nationwide Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of South Africa (ICWU). Sam Masabalala, who represented the Port Elizabeth Native Labour Union incorporated his union as a branch of the ICWU and soon they had a following of 4000 workers. Msimang played a vital role in the formation of this organization which was later known as the ICU.