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Hemson, David
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: HD, HT
Despite the enormous apparatus of control at the disposal of employers\ud and the state in South Africa, working class activity has not been eliminated\ud nor organization erased. African migrant workers, such as those employed\ud in the Durban docks, have held a leading position within the African working\ud class for decades, absorbing the lessons of past struggles and putting forward\ud demands which have led strike movements. These struggles demonstrate the\ud uncompromising hostility of African workers to their class and national oppres-\ud sion. With the growth of capital in South Africa an increase in class\ud exploitation has been accompanied by intensified national oppression; the\ud rule over African workers being enforced through vagrant, master and servant,\ud and pass laws wh ich reproduce a cheap migrant labour force.\ud \ud Dock workers, for more than a century migrant workers, have shown a\ud capacity for resistance in the city equal or higher than the level of class action\ud by 'settled' urban workers. Their resilience is explained by their concentra-\ud tion and commanding position in the labour process of the docks. During\ud strikes the workers have laid claim to work and residence in towns in opposition\ud to the employer and state strategy of expell ing strikers from th e urban centres.\ud Decasualization has been introduced as a 'repressive reform' to reassert\ud the control of the employers over an increasingly active workforce. Ironically,\ud it has b~en accompanied by increasing priority to the development of contract\ud labour in the docks and has also not eliminated the high turnover of workers nor\ud the insecurity of employment.\ud The consciousness of the dock workers has been shaped by the harsh\ud discipline of capitalist production, national oppression, and the daily\ud experience of international communications. These factors, combined with\ud a long tradition of resistance, have encouraged the formation of a class con-\ud scious section of the African proletariat.\ud \ud
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