Challenges Faced by Trade Unions

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“Black labour unions in south Africa are of great value to policy makers who recognize that the industrial work force has often served as a catalyst for political progress and social change in the developing world. It was not uncommon for leaders of the independence movements to have come out of the ranks of organized labor, the trade unions were training grounds and early vehicles of political expression as they were often the only form of organized activity permitted by the colonial authorities.”.(Freeman & Bendahmane 1978, p.1) INTRODUCTION

The South African history is one that has had a dramatic influence on all its citizens, socially, politically and economically. The difficulties faced by south Africans during oppression and the apartheid era have made south Africans the way they are today in terms of knowing their rights and how to fight for such rights. There were massive political movements that were formed by activists who wanted to fight for the rights of all black workers within the labor market. The trade unions played an important role towards the development of new legislation laws that favored not only the white population but also the blacks Indians and colored’s . The South African economy was weakened by punishment, and sheltered by the apartheid government's protectionist policies. This has created certain challenges for organized labour. On one hand, the South African trade union movement maintained a significant following and organizational continuity in recent years combined with union decline, and enjoys an unique degree of political influence on account of its alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC). On the other hand, it has had to battle with a decreasing combination of possible employers as a result of increasing retrenchments and restructuring, particularly in fundamental areas of the economy such as the metal and mining industries. the challenge is to retain the integrity of a union voice whilst continuing to...
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