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The Social Crisis of Labour and the Crisis of Labour Politics in South Africa

Sam Ashman ()

Revue Tiers-Monde, 2015, vol. N° 224, issue 4, 47-66

Abstract: The ongoing crisis in the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest union federation in Africa, resulted in the expulsion of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa in November 2014. The fragmentation of COSATU reflects the broader fragmentation of labour after twenty years of neoliberalism. The ?new? South Africa was not born into the post-war boom, but into a world already having undergone the extensive change we associate with the neo-liberal period ? financialisation, privatisation, and the restructuring of production. The present economic and social crisis of labour can be seen in many dimensions, but has intensified over the last twenty years. Organised labour has been weakened by labour broking and outsourcing. In addition to fragmentation and casualisation, serious internal crises afflict a number of COSATU affiliates, both left and right aligned. The socio-economic crisis of labour has produced not only a crisis of unionism and a crisis in the Alliance, it has produced a crisis in the guiding idea of the National Democratic Revolution as the first stage of South Africa's transition, producing deep splits and tensions.

Keywords: COSATU; South Africa; labour; socio-economic crisis; national liberation. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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