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Centralised bargaining reform in the new South Africa and the role of employer associability

Donnelly, Eddy (2006) Centralised bargaining reform in the new South Africa and the role of employer associability. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis investigates regime change to South African employment relations following the ending of apartheid. The focus is on a revised centralised bargaining system that forms the centrepiece of a corporatist structure intended to help build democracy and transform the economy post liberation. The first part of this study describes the backdrop against which these bargaining reforms have taken place. Ideal-type modelling and 'path dependent' accounts of what has transpired post apartheid provide the means by which this new employment relations system is explained and multiemployer bargaining contextualised. Particular attention is paid to the part played by institutional actors in bringing these reforms about. Focus then switches to the employer alone. Through drawing on mostly European ideas as to what 'collective action' means for employers the argument is made that employer associability (that is, their propensity to combine together and act collectively) proves integral to the durability of South Africa's experimentation with corporatism and 'organised' employment relations. This prompts the question as to whether there is an 'employer offensive' against centralised bargaining under way in South Africa similar to that observed in parts of Europe. Field studies, in the form of two cross-sectional surveys and interviews with selected informants, were designed to test for its emergence within South Africa. Thus, empirical work seeks to address three specific research agendas. First, how much consent is there for industry bargaining overall. Second, what underlying thinking informs individual manufacturers' decisions to associate or not. Third, how might both these be changing and why. Findings suggest the presence of critical levels of associability sufficient to warrant buttressing by the state in order to prevent any further weakening in corporatism. Conclusions are drawn in ways that assess future prospects for industry bargaining in the new South Africa and identify possible trajectories and befitting public policy interventions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations, South African Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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