The Challenges Facing the South African Labour Movement: Mobilization of Constituencies in a Changing Context

Posted: 28 Apr 2010

See all articles by Geoffrey Wood

Geoffrey Wood

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Pauline Dibben

University of Sheffield

Date Written: December 15, 2008

Abstract

There is a growing body of literature on the role and impact of unions in the developing world, and on their ability to mobilize members against a background of neo-liberal reforms. The South African trade union movement represents a source of inspiration to organized labour worldwide, but has faced many challenges over the years. This article engages with debates on union solidarity and worker democracy, and draws on the findings of a nationwide survey of members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to explore the extent of fragmentation according to gender, age, skill level and ethnicity. The survey reveals regular participation in union affairs, democratic accountability, participation in collective action, and a strong commitment to the labour movement, but variation in levels of engagement between categories of union members indicates significant implications for union policy and practice.

JEL Classification: J50, J51

Suggested Citation

Wood, Geoffrey and Dibben, Pauline, The Challenges Facing the South African Labour Movement: Mobilization of Constituencies in a Changing Context (December 15, 2008). Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, Vol. 63, No. 4, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1596053

Geoffrey Wood (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

9 Mappin Street
Sheffield, S1 4DT
United Kingdom
0114 22 23346 (Phone)

Pauline Dibben

University of Sheffield ( email )

17 Mappin Street
Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT
United Kingdom

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