Comprehending strike action : the South African experience c.1950-1990 and the theoretical implications thereof

Wood, Geoffrey Thomas (1995) Comprehending strike action : the South African experience c.1950-1990 and the theoretical implications thereof. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Regular strike action has become a central characteristic of the South African industrial relations system. Whilst in the 1950s strikes were mostly isolated outbursts of relatively short duration, strikes in the 1980s were challenges of unprecedented duration and intensity. It is argued that despite this dramatic change, reflecting a series of discontinuities in both the political and economic arenas, strike action in South Africa does follow distinct patterns, and can be ascribed to a combination of identifiable causes. Principal causal factors include wage aspirations, past experiences and the subjective interpretation thereof, and the role of the union movement. Contingent factors include the prevailing political climate, industrial relations legislation, the amount of information opposing sides possess of their adversaries' intentions as well as spatial issues, such as the internal dynamics of individual communities. Partially as a result of South Africa's political transformation, the late 1980s and early 1990s saw further changes in the industrial relations environment. Reflecting these developments, it is argued that a new type of trade unionism has developed, "coterminous unionism" . This will have far-reaching implications for the nature of industrial conflict. However, it falls fully within the theoretical parameters outlined in this thesis. Despite significant developments in social theory in the 1980s and 1990s, there have been few attempts accordingly to update theories of strike action. One of the objectives of this thesis has been to attempt such an update. It is hoped that the constructs developed will shed light on a widely prevalent form of social conflict, assist in the analysis of future outbreaks, and enable the identification of those situations where a high propensity to engage in strike action may exist.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Strikes and lockouts, South Africa, Industrial relations, Labor unions, Trade unionism
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Sociology and Industrial Sociology
Supervisors:Haines, R.J. and Bell, T.R.
ID Code:3587
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:06 Oct 2012 16:01
Last Modified:06 Oct 2012 16:01
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