Crisis States Working Paper 53

Title : Postcolonial Workplace Regimes in the Engineering Industry in South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe
Author(s) : Andries Bezuidenhout
Date : November 2004



Abstract: This paper considers the nature of workplace regimes that are constructed on the ruins what has become known as the 'apartheid workplace regime' by analysing a sub-sector of the engineering industry as a case study. In the context of the breakdown of the racial division of labour in the workplace, wage and job colour bars still operate informally. With the racial structure of power in the workplace no longer supported by the state, the language of 'flexibility' and 'globalisation' reinforce the arbitrary exercise of power over a layer of contract workers. Migrant labour remains as a key characteristic of the labour market in Southern Africa as such, and this is reinforced by the segmentation of the labour market into 'permanent' and 'contract' employees. While the segregation of facilities according to 'race' is no longer sanctioned by the state, workers experience segregation along company lines of hierarchy as 'racial'. The location of the industry in the industrial geography of apartheid is replicated in the context of Southern Africa, specifically because of the state formation of Swaziland, and the resemblance this has to the former Bantustans under apartheid. The concept 'post-colonial workplace regime' is developed in order to describe and understand these transitions.