The ideological orientation and policy formulation of organised labour during a period of societal transition : a comparison of South Africa and Germany

Goritz, Leif (2003-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This project attempts to assess critically the 'dualistic' role of Organised Labour within the complexities of societal transition processes. As observed by Bendix (1976/2000), the Industrial Relations System, and Organised Labour within it, is a generator for societal and political change. At present, the German union federation Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) do not only hold prominent positions in their respective collective bargaining systems, but also a considerable amount of political power. In both societies, strict labour legislation and strong social-democratic or even communist factions prevent government from adopting more liberal and flexible labour laws. In this paper, the historical and the present role of Organised Labour in its wider societal, context has been critically examined within the framework of the EQUILIBRIUM CONVERGENCE approach (Willy Bendix, 1979) and the TRADE UNION POLICY MATRIX (Willy Bendix, 1979). Both, the EQUILIBRIUM CONVERGENCE model and the TRADE UNION POLICY MATRIX have been applied to place the Deutcher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) into their own societal perspectives in order to establish their role and policy in the societal transition process of their respective countries. In this respect, great similarities between problems, developments and policy formation have been found. Also that, albeit with a historical 'time lag', COSATU appears to follow the structural developments of its German counterpart, the DGB. Perhaps the most salient observation and conclusion is that, while the adaptation of the trade union movement in Germany within this country's societal, industrial transition phases, and particularly in the period of the reunification of East and West Germany, entailing the integration of a communist-socialist system into a social market economy and parliamentary democracy, was of a relatively realistic nature and resulted in a high degree of co operation between the social partners at the highest level leading to 'post modern unionism', South Africa, in its present industrial transition phase, has still to contend with strongly ideologically driven 'fighting unions'. This might hamper an effective economic policy formulation by the government.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie werkstuk is 'n evaluasie van die 'tweeledige' rol van die arbeidsbeweging binne die kompleksiteit van 'n sosiale oorgangsproses. Soos deur Bendix (1996/2000) beweer, is die nywerheidsverhoudingsstelsel met arbeid as hoofakteur daarbinne as 'n dryfkrag, die katalisator vir sosiale en politiese verandering. Die vakbondfederasies Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) end die Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) speel tans nie net prominente rolle in hulle individuele nywerheidsverhoudingsstrukture nie, maar het ook sterk magsbasise in hulle sosiale konteks. In albei samelewings verhinder streng progressiewe arbeidswetgewing en oorweldigende sosiaal-demokratiese, of selfs kommunistiese faksies die regering daarvan om meer liberale en buigbare arbeidswetgewing in te stel. In hierdie skrif word die geskiedkundige en huidige rolle van georganiseerde arbeid ondersoek binne die raamwerk van die EQUILIBRIUM CONVERGENCE Benadering (Willy Bendix, 1979) asook die TRADE UNION POLICY MATRIX (Willy Bendix, 1979). Albei, die EQUILIBRIUM CONVERGENCE model en die TRADE UNION POLICY MATRIX is toegepas om die Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) en die CONGRESS OF SOUTH AFRICAN TRADE UNIONS (COSATU) in hulle samelewingskompleksiteit te plaas om hulle rolle en beleid in hulle eie lande te bepaal. In hierdie proses van ondersoek is 'n groot ooreenstemming tussen hulle ontwikkelinge en posisies gevind, en ook dat, alhoewel met 'n historiese 'time lag', COSATU die pad van strukturele ontwikkelings van sy eweknie in Duitsland, die Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), volg. Miskien die mees belangrikste bevinding en gevolgtrekking is dat, terwyl die aanpassing van die Duitse vakbondbeweging binne die land sy industriele oorgangsfase, en besonders in die periode van die herenigingsproses van Oos en Wes Duitsland, en dus die inlywing van 'n sosialistiese sisteem in 'n sosiale markekonomie en sosiale demokrasie op 'n relatiewe, realistiese basis bewerkstellig was, wat in 'n hoe mate van samewerking tussen die sosiale venote op die hoogste vlak bewerkstellig het, wat na die stadium van 'post modern unionism' voer, Suid Afrika in sy teenwoordige industriele oorgangsfase nog steeds aan die probleem van sterk ideologies gedrewe 'fighting unions' bloot gestel is, wat 'n effektiewe proses van ekonomiese beleidsformulering mag benadeel.

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