n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Shop floor democracy in the congress of South African trade unions

Volume 25, Issue 3_4
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



Based on a nationwide survey of members of COSATU, this article explores the nature and extent of shop floor democracy. The survey revealed high levels of membership participation in the internal life of affiliate unions, and a deeply entrenched culture of accountability. At the same time, the relatively high turnover of shop stewards, and limitations in union training schemes, may result in relatively inexperienced representatives struggling to cope with an increasingly complex bargaining environment. How the unions respond to these challenges will in turn determine the extent to which they are able to effectively mobilise their constituency to impact on events beyond the workplace.

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