SOUTH AFRICAN CAPITALISM IN CRISIS
The 1980s were a very intense period in the history of South African politics. The Apartheid regime was intent on stemming the tide of political rebellion as it continued to find a solution to the political and economic crisis of capitalist rule. In their attempts to advance and consolidate their position the unions made sure they remained true to the tradition of industrial organization. The many unions that had sprung up in the preceding years were encouraged to combine into larger and stronger industrial affiliates. There were serious attempts to organize the unemployed and to form a co-operative movement as an organizational response to the effects of the economic crisis. The unions began to broaden their agenda at the workplace and started taking up issues of Health and Safety. The role of culture in organization, something that had been recognized earlier by some of the FOSATU unions, began to be appreciated. The role women played in the labour process had by now become a fact of life. Women had also been part of the hundreds of thousands that had flocked into unions, and some of them had steadily demonstrated the capacity of women workers to lead. To strengthen this tendency women members organized their own forums within the unions to ensure that women's issues became union issues in reality. In this way unions and the federations were made to include women's and gender issues in their collective bargaining strategies. The holding of Women's Congress by COSATU in 1988 was a recognition of the importance of this issue. As part of the attacks on the mass movement the state initiated a process of reversing some of the organizational, labour and social gains by coming up with amendments to the Labour Relations Act. Even though a federation like COSATU had in 1987 adopted the Freedom Charter as its guiding policy, something that located it formally in the tradition of the Congress Alliance, the union movement was able to...
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