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Privatization, neoliberal development, and the struggle for workers' rights in post-apartheid South Africa.

THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS' LONG STRUGGLE AGAINST APARTHEID RAISED expectations considerably for political liberation as well as economic and social transformation among the working classes and poor communities in South Africa. The African National Congress (ANC) bad mobilized by embracing the Freedom Charter, with its populist and socialist slogans such as "The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth" and "The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It" (Suttner and Cronin, 1985). ANC rule since 1994 has not translated organically into a full realization of these expectations. This article describes the main elements of workers' struggles for collective bargaining rights, racial equality, and social justice. The central findings are that the struggles for collective bargaining rights were quite successful, as were struggles for political inclusion and formal racial equality. The struggles for substantive racial equality and social justice were not as rewarding. In the arena of macroeconomic policy, the ruling ANC has foregone redistributive nationalization and needs-based growth in favor of a neoliberal economic agenda that prioritizes fiscal constraint, lower inflation, trade liberalization, and creating conditions favorable to domestic and foreign capital investment.

Neoliberal macroeconomic policies led the state to attempt privatization of state-owned corporations, while the private sector has downsized under pressures to increase its global competitiveness. Both processes led to job losses. At the level of local government, cities and metropolitan areas increasingly subjected their basic needs, infrastructure, and operations to the principles of cost recovery. Cost recovery requires that service providers recoup costs by passing them on to consumers. To a certain degree, local government provisioning of water, electricity, sanitation, and waste management have all been subject to the cost recovery process; consequently, poor communities are increasingly unable to receive basic needs services.

Neoliberal state policy has not been implemented without resistance. Because of the relative success of worker struggles for collective bargaining rights and their institutionalization in national corporatist institutions, workers slowed the pace of private and public-sector retrenchments. Under pressure from unions, the state has expanded the social wage package to include formerly excluded farm, domestic, and public-sector workers. And it has implemented a labor-intensive public works program to address unemployment. A host of newly formed community groups emerged at local levels to oppose the implementation of cost recovery of municipal services. Among the many organizations are Electricity and Water Crisis Committees, Concerned Residents Committees, and the nationally organized Anti-Privatisation Forum and Anti-Eviction Campaign. Together, these community groups and unions mobilized against neoliberalism, and the state has responded with ever-greater repression. The article concludes with a short discussion regarding strategies for creating greater social justice in South Africa.

The Workers' Struggle for Union Recognition

One of the areas of greatest worker success has been in the establishment of collective bargaining structures and economic corporatism. Until 1979, the South African labor regime had a dualistic structure: it provided a legal and formal guarantee of industrial rights to whites, Coloureds, and Indians, but a labor-repressive exclusionary structure without rights for Africans (Webster, 1988: 176).African unionism dates back to the 1920s and peaked in the 1950s, when the unions became involved in the national liberation struggle in the ANC-aligned South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU). The mass strikes of the 1950s that were associated with the liberation struggle served as an effective recruitment tool, until the apartheid state banned the ANC and forced the movement underground, while SACTU became defunct. Then the state required Africans to negotiate wages and work conditions via more conservative state-registered unions for the other race groups.

Struggles to establish new unions began in the early 1970s in the aftermath of a series of very disruptive wildcat strikes. A new cohort of union leaders and activists emerged, and they developed an innovative strategy for building working-class organizations. First, though organizing mostly Africans, they opted for an inclusive, nonracial union membership and leadership. Second, they chose to avoid explicitly political alliances to avoid repeating SACTU's experience of state repression and focused instead on shop-floor organization. Third, they advocated democratic worker participation and control of shop-floor organization to build union strength (Maree, 1987: 2-3). Using this threefold strategy, workers formed unions in the chemical, metal, automobile, textile, paper and wood, and food industries by 1975 (Kraak, 1992: 252). Further union growth was curtailed by economic crisis and layoffs in the mid-1970s, as well as by the considerable repression in the aftermath of the Soweto uprising in 1976, but resumed in the late 1970s. By the end of 1979, unions had won five recognition agreements (Maree, 1987: 6).

Subsequent union expansion was enhanced in 1979 by pressures for union federation. In April 1979, the Federation of South African Trade Unions (FOSATU) was founded. FOSATU's basic policy entailed:

* A strong, democratic factory floor organization;

* A united labor movement, independent of race, color, creed, or sex;

* National industrial unions;

* An ongoing worker education program; and

* Social justice, decent standards of living, and fair conditions of work for affiliates and for the working class as a whole (quoted in MacShane et al., 1984: 38).

FOSATU implemented its policy goals through several practices. It was a "tight" federation, requiring that affiliates adopt and implement common federation regulations and share resources. The tight federation model helped to recruit membership and build strong union organization by shifting resources to weaker unions. Worker control was institutionalized through democratic shop-floor organization: factory workers elected stewards to represent them in shop-floor activities. Interunion cooperation was institutionalized through regional shop steward councils. FOSATU further required that affiliates set up local offices in the same building and that they give notice if moving. Finally, FOSATU continued the policy of political independence from national liberation organizations. The union's job, to quote general secretary Alec Erwin, was "to build a strong labor movement--and that's all" (Friedman, 1987: 184; see also MacShane et al., 1984: 65).

Also facilitating growth and unity was the implementation of apartheid state reforms aimed at recognizing and controlling the new unions. As labor sociologist Gary Marx (1989: 15) has noted,
 In explaining unity among unions, as expressed in shared political
 allegiance and union federation, I believe we must focus on the
 national legal context of unions rather than on their situation in
 the labor market. The legal context of industrial relations appears
 to be a vital source of common political purpose, whereas the labor
 market was a source of differentiation and sectionalism.

Recognition of the independent unions had been advocated by the Wiehahn Commission, as had the deracialization of labor legislation. The state accepted the former and rejected the latter, enacting laws that legalized independent unions while preventing them from organizing across racial boundaries. Furthermore, the state required that the unions exclude migrant workers.

Unions used the opening afforded by national-level recognition to recruit membership, build organization, and acquire recognition by employers. From 1979 to 1983, registered membership increased from approximately 70,000 to almost 300,000. In the same period, union recognition agreements increased from five to 406. FOSATU affiliates accounted for over 70% of those agreements (Maree, 1987: 7-8).

FOSATU's "tight" federation model was adopted by FOSATU's successor, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and still informs union practices today. Currently, COSATU is by far the largest union federation, with 21 affiliates and a paid-up membership of approximately 1.8 million (NALEDI, 2004: 66--69). The practice of strong shop-floor organization has also meant that the unions have an independent base of organization. This has become very important in maintaining union independence from the national liberation movements and has made it possible for COSATU to craft its own political space for worker action in the Tripartite Alliance with the ANC and South African Communist Party (SACP). As COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (2005) noted, "we [have] won democratic space within which to operate, underpinned by a progressive Constitution." The strength of union organization also helps to explain the considerable success unions have had in acquiring collective bargaining institutions, as will be described below.

The Workers' Struggle for Political Inclusion and Racial Equality

Workers and their unions were important agents for the shift from apartheid to political inclusion and formal racial equality. For example, FOSATU had leveraged the organizing space provided by state recognition of independent unions to compel the state to legalize nonracial unionism. This was a major success, laying the groundwork for future (uneven) deracialization of the workplace (Von Holdt, 2003). Although FOSATU had initially avoided involvement in community politics and alliances with the national liberation organizations to avoid repression, this changed in 1984 when the apartheid state attempted to co-opt Coloureds and Indians with the Tricameral Parliament, while excluding Africans. The ensuing protests provoked greater resistance and calls for the formation of a new union federation, leading to the creation of COSATU in November 1985.

With its adoption of the Freedom Charter, COSATU declared its allegiance to the nonracial policies of the ANC. According to the Charter, "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white" (Suttner and Cronin, 1985). Increasing repression led to greater cooperation between COSATU and the mass mobilizations of civil society that had emerged under the rubric of the United Democratic Front. COSATU also waged several general strikes against apartheid state repression. The most notable was in response to the repressive 1987 Labour Relations Act, which, in the name of national security, placed severe limitations on strike activity and allowed employers to claim damages from unions engaged in strike actions (Baskin, 1990: 263-264). When COSATU called for a general strike, an estimated 2.5 to three million workers supported it, making it the largest in the county's history up to that time (Ibid.: 287-288). Although the action was defeated and the bill became law in 1988, defeat led to further attempts to broaden worker unity and COSATU organized two worker summits to strategize anti-apartheid activity (Ibid.). COSATU also forged an informal alliance with the ANC and SACP in 1985. This Tripartite Alliance was formalized once the ANC and SACP were unbanned in 1990.

Together, COSATU, the UDF, and the ANC helped to unify and mobilize civil society against the racially exclusive apartheid regime. The combined actions of mass mobilizations led to regime factionalization, the formation of white anti-apartheid organizations, and to a shift from apartheid to inclusive political citizenship (Emery, 2006). Hence, founding provisions of the new South African constitution specify that "the Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values: a. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms; b. Non-racialism and non-sexism; c. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law; and d. Universal adult suffrage, a national common voter's roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability and responsiveness (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996).

Neoliberal Globalization and ANC Macroeconomic Policy Change

The mobilizations of the 1970s and 1980s that led to democratic regime change and placed the ANC in power raised expectations of the black community that the new government would address class and racial inequalities (Ginsburg and Webster, 1995). In the 1980s, the ANC had stipulated that it would pursue a mixed economy in a future South Africa (Suttner and Cronin, 1985). In 1990, ANC/SACP leader Joe Slovo had argued that the post-apartheid economy would mix market and planning, while COSATU education secretary and ANC/SACP activist Alec Erwin argued for state ownership of the country's natural resources (Habib and Padayachee, 2000: 249). Nelson Mandela echoed such sentiments, in his first public speech in Cape Town after his release from prison, when he stressed, "that the nationalization of the mines, banks, and monopoly industry is the policy of the ANC and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable" (quoted in Murray, 1994: 19). Similarly, the 1989 ANC economic workshops held in Harare had stressed the importance of developing economic policies that addressed basic needs. Progressive socialist and communist thinkers in the ANC/SACP were influential in producing the ANC's Macroeconomic Research Group's Making Democracy Work, which codified much of this thinking (Bond, 2000: 75), while others in COSATU wrote the Federation's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which argued that growth should be pursed through redistribution (African National Congress, 1994). The RDP was adopted as the ANC's social restructuring platform for the 1994 general elections (Habib and Padayachee, 2000: 250).

In opposition to this movement were capital and the state's agenda to liberalize the economy. Economic liberalization was a turnaround for the National Party, which had institutionalized racial Fordist policy from 1948 into the 1970s. Economic liberalization included attempts to promote black middle-class formation through new housing, rapid education expansion, ending job reservation, lifting restrictions on black business, and removing the bans on white capital investment in black townships (O'Meara, 1996). For capital, advocacy of these economic changes resulted from class formation in the Afrikaner community, their merging with English capital, their mutual desire for more freedom from state regulations, and their interests in larger domestic markets and greater access to international markets (Ibid.). For the state, these economic changes were part of a broader strategy to stabilize race domination by subverting anti-capitalist working-class activity through market legitimation (Greenberg, 1987).

The accumulated momentum of these policy changes carried over into the transition period of the 1990s, to be compounded by pressures for further liberalization by international capital and global lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. All pushed the ANC to clarify its position on the role of the state versus markets in a future South Africa. Business-funded scenario planning proliferated virtually overnight, with each advocating a market-driven economic growth (Murray, 1994: 21). The ANC's macroeconomic policy shifted in the direction of neoliberalism.

Scholars provide contending explanations for this shift. Some maintain that the black bourgeoisie and intelligentsia dominated the ANC and that the shift was consistent with earlier policy and dispositions (McKinley, 1997). Others stress the constraints of economic globalization and the need to create conditions for domestic and foreign capital investment, which included the need to secure high credit ratings from the IMF and World Bank (Habib and Padayachee, 2000).

I find these explanations to be somewhat problematic. Although class elites always led the ANC, the broader anti-apartheid movement was democratized in the 1970s and 1980s through working-class incorporation--as seen in the alliance with COSATU and community groups (Younis, 2000). Placating domestic and foreign investors was important, particularly regarding the possibilities of the nationalization of assets, yet the state could still have pursued a more interventionist line. Finally, the apartheid state was not suffering an immediate debt crisis. In comparative terms, it was under-borrowed, suggesting less leverage by international lending institutions (Webster and Adler, 1999: 369).

Perhaps the most important element in the ANC's shift in economic policy was the collapse of the Soviet-style economic model in the late 1980s. This collapse subverted arguments in favor of state intervention in economic affairs. The timing was extraordinarily propitious for proponents of neoliberalism because of the absence of credible alternative development models for progressive thinkers in the ANC to use against neoliberal advocates. As Trevor Manuel, the ANC's Minister of Trade and Industry (later Minister of Finance) noted in a 1995 interview, "the collapse of the Soviet Union, the destruction of the Berlin Wall broke the ... revolutionary romantic illusions of many. That very stark collapse shifted the debate very significantly" (in Habib and Padayachee, 2000: 253).

The signs of economic policy shifts date back to the early 1990s, when Mandela acknowledged that growth of the economy would be dependent on direct foreign investment. The RDP document made some concessions to capital by recognizing the independence of the Reserve Bank, and this was later included in the constitution. Next came trade and exchange control liberalization. Yet the most significant shift came in the area of privatization when, in 1995, then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki committed the government to privatization of state-owned enterprises such as the telephone service and airways. What forced the issue, however, was the 1996 currency crisis in which the Rand lost more than 25% of its value. The crisis led the ANC leadership, with the assistance of the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the World Bank, to quickly endorse a conservative policy to placate domestic and foreign capital markets. Implementation required marginalizing radical economic thinkers in the state and presenting the policy to alliance partners COSATU and SACP (who opposed it) without prior consultation. The policy was accepted by the ANC's National Working Committee and codified into the 1996 neoliberal Growth, Employment, and Redistribution: A Macroeconomic Strategy (GEAR) (Webster and Adler, 1999: 366-369).

GEAR committed the ANC to containing government expenditures, lowering deficits, reducing inflation, deregulation, and privatization, all in the name of attracting the increased foreign investment needed to fund growth (Habib and Padayachee, 2000: 252). The changes went a long way toward addressing domestic and foreign investor concerns, as indicated by one foreign observer: "Any lengthy discussion with senior ANC economic policy officials indicates that their policy thinking has become far more flexible and far less doctrinaire over the past four years" (quoted in Murray, 1994: 22).

The Uneven Outcome

What has been the impact of the worker struggles for collective bargaining on the transitional outcome? How has the adoption of a neoliberal macroeconomic policy affected workers and poor communities? The evidence suggests a very uneven outcome, with some successes and considerable setbacks and shortcomings.

The Institutionalization of Collective Bargaining

Perhaps the most notable success for workers has been the institutionalization of collective bargaining in the new regime. As mentioned above, workers were involved in long-term struggles to create organizational space for collective action and recognition. These struggles peaked in the late 1980s, when capital attempted to hide behind state repression of unions to reverse labor gains (Webster and Adler, 1999: 359). Unions responded with a series of general strikes and refused to service their members under the state's repressive labor-relations laws (Baskin, 1990). Capital conceded, leading to a series of bilateral negotiations between labor and business in the 1990 through 1994 transitional period. The outcome of these negotiations was a new agreement between the state, capital, and the unions to a national system of collective bargaining whose main features included:

1. That future changes in labor law would be considered jointly by the organizations of capital and workers before presentation to parliament;

2. That unions would participate in a National Manpower Commission overseeing labor-market and labor-relations issues; and

3. That labor-relations regulations would be expanded to include farm and domestic workers and public servants (Webster and Adler, 1999: 359).

When the new ANC government was elected in 1994, these principles became the basis for the new 1996 Labor Relations Act. The new act has four key features. First, it is nonracial and inclusive of public-sector workers, as well as farm and domestic workers. Second, it entrenches collective bargaining practices, including access to employer premises, meeting nights, and union subscription facilities. Third, it institutionalizes the right to strike and picket, and prevents business from securing a lockout clause. It also facilitates conciliation through the Commission for Conciliations and Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Fourth, it institutionalizes joint decision-making at the shop-floor level through workplace forums (Ibid.).

Moreover, the principle that unions would participate in a national collective bargaining forum led to the formation of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). NEDLAC took over the functions of the National Manpower Commission. It was "charged with the task of reaching consensus between government, organized labor, organized employers and other community-based interest groups on all significant economic and social policy before legislation goes to parliament" (Ibid.: 347-385).

Impacts of Neoliberal Globalization: Retrenchments, Privatization, and Cost Recovery

The development of collective bargaining institutions placed unions where they can influence state development strategies and policies. Whenever the state sought to adopt neoliberal principles, this capacity has been exercised. Trade liberalization compelled South African capital to become competitive in the global marketplace. One consequence was the move by capital to downsize their labor force and modernize their production regimes. Under this impetus, job losses became a leading concern for workers in the sectors most exposed to globalization (mining, clothing and textiles, the auto and trucking industries, and state-owned public-sector industries). Unions organized a series of job summits and compelled employers to phase in retrenchments, offer job retraining and counseling, as well as alternative employment assistance, and link these changes to an industrial policy that would bring job growth (Webster and Adler, 1999: 361). Similarly, to cut public expenditure to meet GEAR's state deficit targets, in 1996 the ANC proposed retrenching 300,000 public-sector workers over a three-year period. Union resistance led to a revised 60,000 target, followed by an additional 110,000 job losses from 1994 to 1999 through voluntary severance packages (First Team Report of the COSATU Parliamentary Office, 2000: 68).

Evidence from the private sector suggests nominal net job growth from 1995 to 1999 (NALEDI, 2004: 55), but below the growth rates of the economically active population. Hence, figures from 1994 to 2002 indicate unemployment rate increases from 20 to 30.5%, based on a narrow definition of unemployment. A broader definition, which also measures whether the unemployed person has sought work in the past four weeks, indicates much higher figures: 28.6% in 1994, rising to 41.8% in 2002 (Altman, 2005: 425). These figures place unemployment rates in South Africa among the highest in the world for developing countries. Most families have one person working in the formal economy and rely on this income to meet basic family needs. The combination of job losses with rapidly growing unemployment explains why employment opportunities became such a problem for the South African state in the past decade.

In 1995, the ANC-led government signaled its intention to restructure state assets, in particular the electrification, communications, and transportation services. Some of this was to take place through privatization of state-owned enterprises, or the corporatization (operation under principles of cost recovery) and outsourcing of non-core functions. Unions objected, and a period of intense negotiations between the unions and the state ensued, leading to agreements (the National Framework Agreement on Restructuring of Parastatals) to put all efforts at restructuring of state-owned assets before parliament for approval. By 2003, it appeared that the unions had won the struggles, and very few state-owned enterprises were privatized (Rumney, 2005: 407).

Much more pernicious was the impact of cost-recovery principles on the operation of state-owned enterprises, particularly in their supply of basic needs to poor communities. Cost-recovery principles imply that all or most of the costs of a service need to be recovered by the agency supplying the service (McDonald, 2002a). For the provision of services that are easily measured (e.g., water, electricity supply, and water-born sewerage), cost recovery is based on charging the consumer the full short-term cost of production plus a portion of the long-term costs of operations and maintenance. In some cases, it also includes the costs of infrastructure construction (Ibid.). The World Bank has been a big proponent of cost recovery on the principle that only "a fee reflecting the costs will encourage users to correctly value the service they receive." Cost-recovery fees "help reverse the 'entitlement mentality' that has been the historical result of subsidizing public services" (quoted in Ibid.: 9). The ANC government has applied this principle in the Masakhane (Let's Build Together) campaign. It has stressed the moral rights of individuals to services, alongside their moral obligation to pay for those services.

Across the country, municipalities implemented cost-recovery policies. This is most clearly seen in the installation of prepaid meters for water and electricity. In the case of services that are not as easily measured, such as trash removal, cost recovery was implemented through service cutoffs and threats of housing eviction (Ibid.: 3). Research by the Municipal Services Project suggests that as many as 10 million South Africans had their water and/or electricity cut off since the ANC took power. Estimates also suggest that approximately two million people were evicted from their homes for nonpayment of service bills (McDonald, 2002b; see also McKinley and Veriava, 2005).

Government implementation of cost recovery led to considerable resistance by poor communities. Activities escalated as those communities found their voices marginalized or ignored. Mobilization tactics became radicalized: from mass meetings to marches on local government offices, from sit-ins in government and lending bank offices to reconnection of cut-off services, and sometimes even the burning of repossessed houses. The formation of new organizations facilitated these direct actions. Among the many newly formed community organizations are the Anti-Eviction Campaign and Anti-Privatization Forum, a host of local Water and Electricity Crisis Committees, local Concerned Residents Committees, to name a few (see Anti-Privatisation Forum, 2004; Desai and Pithouse, 2004; McKinley and Veriava, 2005).

Radicalization of state repressive tactics has accompanied and fueled these mobilizations. Lending banks petitioned the state to enforce evictions, and interdictions were secured against activists. At times, criminal charges were brought against activists. The police, when implementing the evictions, exercised wide powers to arrest resistors and protestors. The National Intelligence Service was also involved in undermining protest with evidence indicating the use of apartheid state tactics, including informers, secret abductions, and interrogations of activists and dissenters (McKinley and Veriava, 2005).

Strategies for Creating Greater Social Justice in the Future

Trajectories for creating greater social justice in South Africa are likely to emerge along three lines. First, there is the distinct possibility of workers, capital, and the state creating a "developing nation" social democracy in South Africa. Webster and Adler (1999: 371-372) argue that such a class compromise, "must aim at a non-zero-sum solution appropriate for a labor surplus economy in a semi-peripheral country. Such a compromise would prioritize high growth in which capital invests in a manner that generates sustainable jobs, without undermining the living standards of currently employed people." The goal would be to create a system of "regulated flexibility" wherein workers concede to capital the need for greater job flexibility and wage differentiation in return for a social wage provided to all workers at the lower end of the wage market and to the unemployed.

Edward Webster is the country's leading labor sociologist, and he and Glenn Adler were involved in strategizing for the labor movement. Part of this strategizing involved the advocacy of key elements of a social wage package that is being legislated and may become institutionalized. Elements include the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which sets minimum wage conditions for all workers; the Employment Equity Act, which addresses racial inequalities in work; the Skills Development Act, which requires employers to contribute to a skills development fund that they can withdraw from if they implement workplace skills-training programs; and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, which provides formal-sector workers with short-term unemployment benefits. Unions have been reluctant to agree to greater wage and labor-market flexibility, but much of this is occurring anyway through work informalization (NALEDI, 2004: 91-95).

In addition, under pressure from the unions (Vavi, 2005), the state has begun to address the problem of unemployment through public works. The initiative began when President Mbeki (2003) announced the launch of the Expanded Public Works Programme in February 2003, with the twin goals of drawing "significant numbers of the unemployed into productive work, and that these workers gain skills while they work, and thus take an important step to get out of the pool of those who are marginalized." According to the recently announced guidelines, the program requires labor-intensive methods for "infrastructure projects involving low-volume roads and sidewalks, storm-water drains, and trenches" (Department of Public Works et al., 2005: 1). It is too early to assess the impacts of these attempts to expand the social wage and encourage job creation through state-led public works programs. But the initiatives do suggest that the hegemony of market fundamentalism is easing.

Second, given the logic of neoliberal capitalist development globally, the state is likely to be under continued pressure to cut costs and lower wages across the board; thus, it is unlikely that such a class compromise, if ever achieved in South Africa, would be sustainable in the medium to longer term unless workers organize internationally. South Africa's union movement has been at the forefront of such an initiative. It has helped to establish the Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR), an organization of independent and democratic trade unions in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and Africa. It emerged from the Indian Ocean Initiative, which had its founding conference in May 1991, and additional conferences in 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1999. SIGTUR was founded at the 1999 conference and sought to organize workers who share conditions of exploitation and where union rights are constrained by repressive states (Lambert and Webster, 2001: 342). Its goal has been to find ways to challenge the neoliberal agenda imposed from above by the globalization of capital with an international social movement unionism organized from below (Ibid.: 350). SIGTUR held its most recent meeting in Bangkok on July 1, 2005 (SIGTUR, 2005).

SIGTUR's primary concern is to develop a strategy for opposing neoliberalism. The 2005 Congress proposed a Seven-point Action Plan for strengthening the organization. Part of this plan includes the formulation of a "Universal Declaration on Labor Rights from the Economic South," with the recommendation that it be adopted by each affiliated union and then communicated to each union's government (Ibid.). SIGTUR undertook joint campaigns, including the 1999 through 2000 global campaign against the Rio Tinto mining corporation and actions against the Western Australian government's market flexiblization agenda of 1995. South African unions supported Australian dockworkers' strikes against this deregulation of labor markets; together, they won the battle. On May Day of 2001, SIGTUR coordinated a general strike of South African, Indian, and Korean workers, in which approximately four million workers responded (Lambert and Webster 2001: 352-355). These union actions are new, unprecedented, and may lead to considerable impacts on Southern workers' lives if expanded.

Third, new community movements in South Africa are likely to continue to oppose the state's neoliberal agenda. They are currently expanding their organizational capacities and linking their struggles. Witness the 2003 Social Movements Indaba, which the Anti-Privatisation Forum organized (McKinley and Veriava, 2005). The lndaba succeeded in creating greater inter-organizational cooperation and solidarity, leading to a range of joint collective actions in conjunction with allies such as the various community Crisis Committees and unions, on issues of evictions, services cutoffs, free education, and workers' strikes for better pay and work conditions (see Anti-Privatisation Forum, 2004). Part of their future agenda is likely to involve pressures on the state to permit greater protest and to require that independent human rights groups monitor policing. Goals might also include demands for poverty hearings. Finally, it is possible that pressure will emerge to establish a progressive cost-recovery system that would mimic progressive taxation systems: greater costs of services would be borne by wealthier areas and wards in a city to subsidize the service delivery in poorer areas.


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ALAN EMERY is Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University, Fullerton (e-mail: He is working on a book investigating the relationship between the antiapartheid movement advocacy of civic nationalism and democratization in South Africa. The author would like to thank Susan Skarda and the three journal reviewers of this article for helpful criticisms and comments.
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Author:Emery, Alan
Publication:Social Justice
Article Type:Law overview
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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