n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Forming, storming, norming and performing : transformation of labour relations in the South African automobile industry

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



This article analyses the transformation of labour relations in South Africa's automobile industry in the context of international trends in the industry and South Africa's political transition and drive to achieve growth through integration in the global economy. The strategic choices of auto manufacturers, organised labour and successive governments which shaped the industry are mapped through a formative phase (1920-1974) during which the industry grew in a context of racial corporatism and protectionist policies; a period of "storming" (1975-89) as the industry became a site of struggle in South Africa's political transition; and a "norming" phase (1990-2004) in which parties have redesigned relations to ensure competitiveness in the global economy. Automobile production is now at a record high in the context of export-oriented government policies, an investment surge and "new agreements" between employers and unions. The transformation has, however, been difficult, and in the light of a fast changing environment may be hard to sustain.

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