Dogs fighting lions - Labour’s troubled attempt to pursue development in South Africa
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This study examines the trade union movement in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and their access to power and ability to represent the working class. At the end of Apartheid, in 1994 when the African National Congress (ANC) won the first democratic election in South Africa, the expectations of the black population towards the government was high. Millions of people were to be lifted out of poverty through employment, housing and dismantling of the racial barriers that discriminated the black population. As COSATU entered into a Tripartite Alliance with ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP), it took on responsibilities for national development. Today nineteen years have passed and the inequality in South Africa is rising, but at the same time COSATU is facing a fragmentation within its affiliates. The study attempts to first explore the historical and institutional conditions for the position and power COSATU holds today. Then I analyse COSATU’s political dynamics in three ways; upwards in relation to ANC, inwards towards its members and sideways in aligning with other social movements. Whether COSATU earns the label social movement unionism is discussed throughout the study. In the light of classical theory on power and Gramscian theory on hegemony I discuss whether corporatism has limited COSATU’s use of labour power, hence their ability represent the interests of their members. The research claims that as member stratification changes within a union, the priorities of organised labour changes accordingly.