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Is social movement unionism still relevant? The case of the South African federation COSATU

Authors


  • Dr Pauline Dibben is Reader in Employment Relations, Management School, University of Sheffield, Geoffrey Wood is Professor of Human Resource Management, Management School, University of Sheffield, and Kamel Mellahi is Professor of Strategic Management, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.

Pauline Dibben, Reader in Employment Relations, Management School, University of Sheffield, Mushroom Lane, Sheffield S10 2TN; email: p.dibben@sheffield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Is adopting a social movement role the most effective organisational strategy for organised labour or is it little more than an ideal, in an age of austerity and union defensiveness? This article draws on a national survey of Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) members to test perceptions of union activities and finds that COSATU unions largely embrace a social movement role. However, in the context of insecurity, unions need to address the central challenge of declining formal sector employment and precarious jobs.

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