Between civil Society and the state: the political trajectories of South Africa's independent trade union movement from 1970-1993.

Lieres, Bettina von
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This thesis examines the political trajectories of the Independent union movement from 1970-1993. It argues that the political strategies adopted by tbe unions' leadership reflected significant difterences with regard to the political contest over the democratic form of South African society. The political ideology of the unions' leadership was made up of two contrasting 'logics' of political struggle. The one, which we characterise as "simple polarisation", viewed the objective of the unions' struggles primarily in terms of a competition for political dominance which involved a simple dichotomy between the apartheid state and a unified opposition movement. In this view the opposition was conceived of as a homogenous, collective subject, unified in its common assault on the state. Underlying this logic of opposition was a denial of specific and different identities and interests and democracy was seen to be directly associated with the destiny of one distinct social actor. The logic of "simple polarisation" was dominant within the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) throughout the 1980's. It was nourished primarily by COSATU's close relationship with the charterist section of the wider opposition movement There existed within the unions a second political tradition which emphasised a logic of "institutionalised pluralism". This current viewed the organisation of opposition primarily in institutional terms. It emphasised the building of union independence outside the aegis of the wider opposltlon movement. Underlying this tradition was a pluralist conception of democracy, Associated with the early Federation of South African Trade Unions legacy of institutional independence, this logic reared its head within COSATU towards the late 1980's when the federation entered a series of corporatist arrangements with employers and the state. Although there seems to be evidence that there existed (at least some) support within the ranks of FOSATU of a form of workers' control more easily reconellable with an anti-pluralist than pluralist conception of democracy, the nature of FOSATU was such, that. when sufficiently pressed on the issue of which logic of democracy - "simple polarisation" or "institutionalised pluralism" - it endorsed, the latter would have been selected over the former.
Thesis submitted to the faculty of arts, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of arts.
Cosatu -- South Africa., Federation of South African Trade Unions., Labor unions -- South Africa., South Africa -- Politics and government -- 1961-1978., South Africa -- Politics and government -- 1978-1994.