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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Domestic worker unionisation in post-apartheid South Africa: demobilisation and depoliticisation by the democratic State
Author:Ally, ShireenISNI
Periodical:Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:domestic workers
trade unions
labour policy
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02589340802113014
Abstract:The postapartheid State in South Africa has launched one of the most extensive efforts anywhere in the world to protect domestic workers, giving them for the first time in South African history a political status and the right to organize into trade unions. The implications of democratization for domestic worker unionization have been relatively underexplored. Through a qualitative examination of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), this article shows that domestic workers have been demobilized and depoliticized by the democratic State. The availability of an extended postapartheid State apparatus for the protection of domestic workers has obfuscated the necessity for domestic workers to join a union, leading (in combination with the continuation of the historical limits to domestic worker unionization) to declining union density in the sector. The article argues that the postapartheid political inclusion of domestic workers through their construction as 'vulnerable' has positioned the State as the articulator, representative, and protector of domestic workers' collective interests in ways that have displaced the union in these roles and depoliticized it. Combined with the union's strategic facilitation of this substitution of its functions by the State, the article argues that domestic workers have been demobilized and depoliticized, paradoxically, by the very efforts of the postapartheid State to enhance their political capacities. Bibliogr., notes, ref. sum. [Journal abstract]