Negotiating labour insecurity : a case study of temporary off-farm workers in the deciduous fruit sector in Ceres

Wiltshire, Anne (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis develops a socio-economic profile of temporary off-farm workers and examines how they negotiate labour insecurity in a context of high unemployment and casualisation of work. This is realised through a case study of temporary off-farm workers in the deciduous fruit sector in Ceres. The study followed a three-phase exploratory sequential mixed methods research strategy. This meant that exploratory interviews informed semi-structured interviews, the findings of which were verified in focus groups before forming grounded indicators in a questionnaire interviewing 200 temporary off-farm workers employed in peak season. The findings are analysed drawing on Marx’s theory of the division of labour (1978a), social consciousness (1978c) and mechanisation of labour (1978d), which are further developed though the work of other theorists. The thesis illustrates that the socio-economic profile of farm workers has changed dramatically and that the majority of temporary farm workers are black African. This is attributed to the abolishment of influx control in 1987 and subsequent market deregulation and the flexibilisation of labour in the early 1990s. This meant that new relations of production were incorporated into the existing mode of production and flexibilisation led to a fragmentation of skills into racial categories. Having greater knowledge and skills of farm work, coloured workers accessed higher skilled jobs, permanent or temporary, whilst black African workers were incorporated as feminised workers, in accordance with increased employment of unskilled temporary workers in the sector. Labour insecurity is negotiated by drawing on formal and informal incomes, including support from household members, co-workers and social assistance grants. Drawing on a wider range of these resources, coloured women negotiate labour insecurity more successfully. Further, considerations in partaking in work are not only informed by labour insecurity but also reproductive insecurity and social relationships in the workplace. In conclusion, considerations depend on socio-historical contexts, which have led to unequal economic and social conditions of workers. This has meant that workers experience labour insecurity unevenly and make dependent choices in their considerations around work. There is, thus, a complex interplay of considerations between productive and social reproductive work.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ontwikkel 'n sosiaal-ekonomiese profiel van tydelike plaaswerkers en ondersoek hoe hulle onsekerheid beding in 'n konteks van hoë werkloosheid en tydelike werk. Dit word bereik deur 'n gevallestudie van tydelike plaaswerkers wat nie op plase woon nie in die sagtevrugtebedryf in Ceres. Die navorsingstrategie van hierdie studie is 'n drie-fase verkennende opeenvolgende vermengde-metodes strategie. Dit beteken dat kwalitatiewe onderhoude ingelig is deur verkennende onderhoude en hierdie bevindinge is weer in fokusgroepe geverifieer en toe as gegronde aanwysers gebruik in die opstel van 'n vraelys vir onderhoude met 200 tydelike plaaswerkers in die spitsseisoen. Die bevindinge word ontleed volgens Marx se teorie oor arbeidsverdeling (1978a), sosiale bewustheid (1978c) en meganisasie van werk (1978d) en wat deur ander teoretici verder ontwikkel is. Die tesis illustreer dat die sosiaal-ekonomiese profiel van tydelike plaaswerkers dramaties verander het en dat die meerderheid van werkers swart Afrikane is. Dit word toegeskryf aan die afskaffing van instromingsbeheer in 1987 en markderegulering en fleksibilisering van die arbeidsmag wat in die vroeë 1990s daarop gevolg het. Dit het beteken dat nuwe produksieverhoudings opgeneem is in die bestaande produksiewyse en fleksibilisering het tot ʼn fragmentasie van vaardighede gelei oor rassekategorieë heen. Met meer kennis van en vaardighede in plaaswerk, het bruin werkers meer toegang tot permanente en tydelike geskoolde werk gehad, terwyl swart werkers aangestel is in ongeskoolde plaaswerk tydens 'n verhoogde indiensneming van ongeskoolde tydelike werkers in die sektor. Arbeidsonsekerheid word beding deur formele en informele inkomstes, insluitende ondersteuning van ander lede van die huishouding, medewerkers en maatskaplike toelaes. Met 'n groter verskeidenheid van hierdie hulpbronne tot hulle beskikking, hanteer bruin vroue arbeidsonsekerheid meer suksesvol. Verder word oorwegings rondom deelname aan werk nie slegs ingelig deur arbeidsonsekerheid nie, maar ook reproduktiewe onsekerheid en sosiale verhoudings in die werksplek. Ten slotte, oorwegings rondom werk word beïnvloed deur sosiaalhistoriese kontekste, wat gelei het tot ongelyke ekonomiese en sosiale omstandighede van werkers. Dit beteken dat werkers arbeidsonsekerheid oneweredig ervaar en afhanklike keuses maak in hul oorwegings rondom die werk. Daar is dus 'n komplekse wisselwerking van oorwegings tussen produktiewe en sosiaalreproduktiewe werk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98466
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