Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations
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Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations

Edited by Michael Barry and Adrian Wilkinson

The Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations is an essential resource for those seeking to understand contemporary developments in the world of work, and the way in which employment relations systems are evolving around the world.
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Chapter 13: Employment Relations in South Africa and Mozambique

Geoffrey Wood


Geoffrey Wood INTRODUCTION This chapter compares and contrasts the practice of employment relations in South Africa and Mozambique from a broadly historical perspective. Whilst geographically in close proximity, the two countries have had very different colonial legacies, and this has been reflected in great differences in the scale and scope of industrialization and general development. In common, both countries have very high unemployment rates and large informal sectors; however, the relative strength of unions also varies greatly between the two countries. The latter reflects both objective circumstances, and key differences in strategic choices made by the unions. UNDERSTANDING EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND MOZAMBIQUE There is an extensive body of literature on employment relations in South Africa. First, there is the rich literature on South African labour history, locating it within the broader political economy. Second, there is literature on unionization and union renewal. Related to this is a third body of literature that focuses on changes in regulation and firm practices. The first body of literature focuses on South Africa’s experience of industrialization and how this process was associated with the refinement of a system of racial repression to ensure cheap and controllable labour supplies from South Africa’s black majority (Simons and Simons, 1969; Webster, 1987). Key debates here centre on the extent to which institutionalized racial discrimination was, in practice, really functional to business (Simons and Simons, 1969; Karis and Carter, 1977). The second body of literature concerns itself with the nature of unionization, why early attempts...

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