n African Journal of Rhetoric - Reflections on mass action, ethics and rationality - a glimpse into unionised activity in the education and health sectors in South Africa

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


This paper is more of a proposal, than an analysis, that calls for research in order to facilitate an informed understanding of the motives for the behaviour demonstrated by the public sector unions during the recent mass action in South Africa. The paper begins by locating the constituencies that make up the public sector unions within the broader union movement in the class struggle, and proceeds to explore the contradictions first in the composition of the trade union movement and secondly in the behaviour of the public sector unions vis-à-vis the democratic ethos of the country and concludes with an examination of the mode of protest culture. The paper advances two hypotheses for research: the first seeks to explain the composition of unions and the second seeks to understand the behavioural aspect. There is a subtle thread that constitutes the big question which runs throughout the paper: was this just only a strike intended to achieve better remuneration and better working conditions of service, or was there more to it than meets the eye?

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