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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Failed redistribution or failed administration? Official union narratives of community protest in South Africa
Author:Paret, Marcel
Periodical:Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies (ISSN 1470-1014)
Geographic term:South Africa
trade unions
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02589346.2015.1104467
Abstract:How do unions relate to struggles being waged by those who are poor and lack secure employment? Drawing on a content analysis of 176 press releases, this article examines how two South African unions, the private manufacturing union NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) and the public services union SAMWU (South African Municipal Workers Union), officially responded to protests in township communities ravaged by unemployment. Both unions recognize the importance of the protests, but they situate them within different narratives. Revolving around a notion of failed redistribution, the NUMSA narrative is more left leaning but also more hostile to community protests, viewing them as lacking in political direction. Revolving around a notion of failed administration, the SAMWU narrative is less radical but expresses greater sympathy with and understanding of the protests. The two narratives suggest that union solidarity with more insecure layers of the working class will depend on their relation to the state and ruling party, and the extent to which they view themselves as privileged actors in working-class struggle. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]