Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The labour market of South Afrixca

Assess the extent to which South Africa’s contemporary labour market is an outcome of its history of inequality. Your answer should focus on historical events from 1652 and the ways these have or may not have impacted on the contemporary South African workplace.

The history of inequality which was caused by colonialism, segregation and apartheid has to a greater extent affected the contemporary labour market. The colonial period created some inadequacy in the labour market in the past and later to the current labour market. The effects of the exploitation of the different races by the colonial masters created the devastating effects that are in the contemporary labour market. This essay is going to elucidate and analyse if the history of inequality has any effects to the functions of the contemporary labour market.

According to the Oxford advanced dictionary (611; 2005) inequality is the unfair difference between groups in society, when some have more wealth status or opportunities than other, the inequality of opportunity and economic inequality between different racial groups. The historic period of South Africa was determined by inequality in every aspect in terms economically, politically and socially. As the colonial masters took control of the economic, political and economic functions of the native black South Africans colonialization become invertible as the European settlers took the mode of production such as the land in the bide to satisfy their capitalistic egos they enforced several laws and systems like the slavery system to suppress and control the Black South Africans.

Repressive laws were created to create a large labour pool for the European settlers the 1913 Land Act as according to Terreblanch (7; 2002) the Land Act of 1913 was the best of several example of the property class depriving the indigenous people of their land in a deliberate attempt to promote proletarianisation and impoverishment, thereby being the supply of unfree black land. Ownership of the factors of production by the colonial masters meant the oppression of the indigenous Africans Terreblanch (6:2002) land deprivation was the unfolding drama of unfree black labour over the past 350 years. This legislation was meant to create labour force that was required in mines and agricultural farms owned by the European settlers

The Native labour act of 1913 according to Terreblanch (12; 2002) stipulated the Africans could not practice sharecropping or squatter farming of white farms or public land. As the source of survival was out of the land by the Africans this meant to make a living was out of joining the brutal and oppressive labour force that was being offered in mines and agricultural lands by the whites. Terreblanch (6; 2002) also elaborates that as labour was scarcer and therefore potentially more valuable than land them was a continuity tendency to force the black labourers into slavery, serfdom and other repressed forms of labour. Getting the land which was being advocated by the Native Land Act of 1913 meant the Black South Africans were going to suffer in the oppressive hands of the European settlers.

According to Terrablanch (11:2002) the caper colonial authority introduced a system designed to employ coloreds and Africans as cheap and docile workers in Agricultural sectors which was enacted by the masters and servant laws, pass laws and measures aimed at proletarian coloreds and Africans by deliberately depriving them of their economic independence these included frontier wars, land deprivation, anti squatter and anti vagrancy laws and the abolition of the colored settlements. The legislative laws to deprive the South Africans off their means of survival was the most cause of the brutal acts of the South Africans in the future from the 16th century to the 19th century as it caused other laws to be enacted that were tantamount to the human existence by the former European Settlers.

The Act of the Westminster in 1909 according to Terreblanch (10; 2002) enacted a multitude of labour laws from 1910 aimed at keeping blacks subjected as subservient labour force. This created a unitary state that was governed by the parliament thereby the white dominated parliament imposed and put into place the most brutal and oppressive laws like the lands act of 1913.In 1841 according to Terrablanch (413;2002) the first of the long service of masters and servants ordinances and laws was adopted. The oppressive laws created the worst human inequality as there was a huge difference in economic, political and social differences in the history of human kind in South African history the history of these inequality has led to the devastating effects that can be noted to day in the contemporary labour market as they are no ways that have been done to solve the oppressive and brutal legislative acts that were put in place by the colonial settlers as the Whites still benefit from the past and the black South Africans still have no source of mode of production.

These factors of inequality have to a greater extent led to the inequalities that are found in the present day labour market from the legislative acts that have not fully address the challenges that were found by the deprived races and tribes. According to Leistner and Breytenbanch(92:1975) the trend of legislatives acts form the Bantu labour Act of 1964, the Wage Act of 1957 and some of the various Masters and Servants acts to the current moment have not yet addressed the ways of oppression and discrimination that is found in the labour market of South Africa. Many of the South African black and Indian majorities are still in hunger as they do not own the means of production as these means were taken away from them long back ago. No current legislation has able to solve the issue of discrimination in the contemporary work place to greater extent the legislative suppressive laws have led to negative impacts on the contemporary labour market.

The legislative suppressive laws that agitated the development of a capitalistic economy can still be noted in the current South Africa as all the means if production is largely owned by the racial group that benefited for the colonial past according to Terrabanch ( 384:2002) the impoverishment and proletarianisation of the Khosian and the different African tribes was a long and relentless that began in the late 17th century and continue uninterruptedly and with the increasing intensity until the 1980s.The discriminatory laws prevented the African to do highly skilled work and to own any means of production. Since the attainment of independence in 1994 the government has not yet done enough to create employment and raise the standards of living of the Black South African and the Indians as the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) Act of 2003 not yet in full operation.

Racial inequalities that were created by the suppressive legislation in the colonial period are still the major concern of the Black population and the immigrant workers who were form India and China. Terreblanch (397: 2002) argue that the land Act of 1913 and other additional laws was to prohibit Africans from conducting business in white areas and to deprive them to legally accumulate capital and entrepreneurial skills. The land distribution by the government to make the deprived racial groups to attain mode of production and ownership of property has not be done successful leading to the oppressive way of white dominantly own companies to get the labour they want form the rural and urban seeking black labourers this an indirect from of making the companies get labour no matter what the outcome might be to offer them low wages and poor working conditions. Holdt and Webster (11; 2005) argue that the persistence of the racial division of labour and the racial tension remains the same feature of the workplace despite the progress with employment equity he also elaborates that racial authoritarianism is still a dominate feature in the contemporary labour market as he found that Highveld Steel still practice racial authoritarianism in his research.

However to a lesser extent the oppressive legislative laws have not had any impact on the contemporary work place as they are now Trade Unions and great awareness of forms of worker exploitation in the contemporary work place. The 1994 independence meant that the history of inequality was going to be buried and a new era of freedom and non discrimination in the labour market had come to phrase. The history of inequality is justifiable to define the contemporary labour market as according to Holdt and Webster (11:2005) at Anglo American there are more forms of team training as a basis for new workplace teams thereby sweeping away the inefficiencies and racial antagonisms from the apartheid era. The history of inequality has been addressed by the government of the modern day and various companies as they was dropped the authoritarian racial order.

Although the suppressive legislation contributed to the history of inequality, slavery was the first common way the European setters got labour form the South Africans as slavery was occurring through the world to build the British Empire and so European states. According Terreblanch (11:2002) slaves were imported and most of them initially owned by the Dutch East company, the slaves were mostly in patriarchal households. The importation of labour was mainly the sole source of attaining labour during the colonial invasion which led to immigrant workers from all the parts of the globe. After the abolition of slavery in 1838 a form of generating the need labour was to be introduced in the post slavery period the indentured labour system was introduced as according to Freund (1; 1995) the European question of how the authorities would organize labour force to extract the minerals, to grow the plantation crops, to transport the raw materials and to work the docks in a way that would make such systems profitable and self-sustaining. Indentured labour was introduced taking people from disadvantaged countries in the world like India and China as according to Freund (2;1995) no unfree labour was more important than the use of indentured labour it represented the revival of a system of abeyance.

Indentured labour was a new form of slavery although imposed indirectly by the European Settlers as according to Freund (2:1995) the indentured contract allowed for the employment of wage works under conditions giving a high level of control to employers and they were able free to set the terms of the contract to prevent them for living their grounds. The Indentured labour began to replaced the freed South African black works how were working in plantations and mines Freund (6:1995) argue that the expansion of the of the sugar industry in the early twentieth century would have required redoubled efforts aimed at massively increasing the scale of indenture if that were to continue as the basis of the sugar industry. According to Terreblanch (2:2002) Natal begin to import labour from India in 1860 and the Chinas in 1904.Oppression of the harsh history of the indentured labour in the past can be linked to the current work contemporary.

As the slavery changed to indenture labour and from indentured labour to the apartheid era the face of the real slavery has not went away. As modern day slavery can be noticed in the contemporary labour market where the owners of the means of production suppress the worker by subjecting them to lower wages and bad living conditions. Miers (415:2003) argue that modern slavery is not about ownership but control which means a condition of a person completely under the control of another. A new face of indentured labour is certain in the contemporary labour market as immigration workers are now no longer forced to come and work in South African companies, as South Africa has one of the strong economies in African it is attracting a lot of immigrants. Workers from neighboring countries such as Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are now the current indentured victims. There is no job security and they work in the worst workplaces because they have no choice. Holdt and Webster (19:2005) the flexibility of the migrant worker is the major reason for why employers favor it. They don’t have Trade Union representative which makes them easy targets for the capitalist’s worker exploitation. Even the ordinary South African have fallen into to pit hole of this modern indenture ship as the conditions work during the indenture ship period in the colonial past are now being subjected to them.

To greater extent the indentured labour practice has not had any impact on the contemporary labour market as they are now regulations that determine immigrant’s workforce. According to Hold and Webster (21:2005) the putting in place of the progressive legislation particularly the Labour Relations Act, the Skills Development Act and the Employment Equity Act.

The transition form the brutal acts of apartheid era has had an impact of the contemporary labour market some of effects of the history of inequality and oppression that advocated for discriminatory ways of the fellow human beings in the labour market can still be greatly noticed with the present political leaders with a burden to effect changes of the racial deprived groups especially the Black South Africans that are still suffering in the labour market due to the horrifically acts of the colonial settlers.


Holdt K V and Webster E .2005: Beyond the Apartheid Workplace: UKZN press: South Africa
Leistner G.M.E and Breytenbanch W.J :1975:The Black worker of South Africa: Africa Institute of South Africa: South Africa

Mier S .2003: Slavery in the Twentieth Century The evolution of Global Problem: Rowman &Littlefield Publshers: Oxford

Hornby AS. Wehmeier S and Mcintosh C. (2005) Oxford Advanced learners Dictionary : Oxford University Press.Oxford

Terrablanch S 2002 A history of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002 University of Kwazulu natal press: South Africa

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