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Work Restructuring Impact in South Africa Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2022

Introduction

The colonization of African countries by the European powers prompted African communities to fight for their rights and demand freedom from the colonial yoke. The Europeans dominated African communities for many years and never heeded their call for independence. The struggle to achieve their colonial goals brought changes to the colonized African countries and was despised by the indigenous communities. The late granting of independence to the South African people meant that the European nations particularly the Dutch established themselves in the colony and instilled their rule, which was named apartheid rule. The apartheid rule saw widespread suffering of Africans that made it necessary to make changes in all aspects of society after independence. This ensured that equality and spirits towards development were embedded in the minds of the South African people.

This necessitated a form of restructuring in all political, social, and economic areas to ensure that the country was geared towards development to end the abhorring legacy of apartheid. The despised regime had pervaded all areas of life and made a clear distinction between Africans and Europeans living on African soil. The Europeans were seen as the superior race to Africans, and this racial discrimination was the foundation of apartheid. This was because all forms of discrimination and prejudice were based on an individual’s skin colour. After gaining independence and holding their democratic elections, the post-apartheid regime identified three key areas in the society where the greatest force of apartheid was felt. The Africans had been long denied their political rights of participation in political matters and had been grossly mistreated in the workplace. The triple transition plan was to ensure that there was the prevalence of social citizenship where individuals in society could relate without the fear of discrimination. It aimed at the removal of the apartheid structures and practices, which were highly felt in the workplace (Nobel & Lesufi, p. 92, 2005).

Moreover, the apartheid regime monopolised economic practices to ensure that they prospered in economic activities at the expense of Africans who tediously worked to make their economy a success. This plan would ensure that the economy was internationally competitive.

Main Part

The new government introduced the triple transition plan, which was aimed at addressing the problems that were the consequences of apartheid suppression. This plan narrowed down to three key areas of political democracy, equity that emerged due to racial misrepresentation, and economic liberalization (Nobel & Lesufi, p. 93, 2005). This plan was aimed at restructuring the economy to make it globally competitive, ensuring that democracy prevailed at all times, and erasing the painful memories of apartheid rule. However, for a successful economic transition, it was necessary to restructure work. This meant that many changes had to be made in the workplace to conform to the plan. The plan, therefore, had many consequences on the economy of the South African people especially in the workplace where apartheid had dug its ugly head. The plan aimed at creating equity in the workplace, ensuring that workers rights were highly upheld in the industry, and restructuring the economy to ensure it was highly efficient in the provision of their services (Gruchy, Koopman & Strijbos, p. 108, 2008).

The triple transition plan led to significant changes in the workplace to ensure that Africans enjoyed the fruits of their labour. One pillar of this plan was the promotion of democracy in all aspects of society. This was warmly received in the place of work since the transition to democracy weathered the relationship that existed between the apartheid regime and the state. The workplace went through reforms and experienced a lot of change. The path to democracy was lit by the emergence of trade unions that advocated for workers rights, which the regime had denied the African workers. These trade unions consisted of African workers who were tired of the sufferings in the places of work and wanted the restructuring to guarantee favourable conditions of work (Gruchy, Koopman & Strijbos, p. 110, 2008). The apartheid regime consisted of an oppressive order, and the workplace was a site where racial domination thrived. This domination was to make an easy differentiation between Africans and Europeans in terms of occupations or job rackets, disparities in incomes between Africans and Europeans, and inequality in the distribution of power. These influenced overall industrial management and relations that led to production inefficiencies. This wastefulness emerged due to constant antagonisms and conflicts that were the result of poor social relations and discriminative hierarchies established by the apartheid regime (Nobel & Lesufi, p. 96, 2005).

The worker unions were the results of the endless strife that characterized African and European workers in the workplace. The unions ensured that all the rights and privileges given to Europeans were extended to Africans since they all worked under the same conditions. Furthermore, the unions insisted on equal representation of all races in the workplace. This was to eliminate the specific positions that had been reserved for Europeans such as jobs in high hierarchical positions. This was because Africans had the requisite skills for such positions but their skills were being suppressed by the regime. This would lead to efficiency in the management process that would eliminate production inefficiencies (Gruchy, Koopman & Strijbos, p. 101, 2008).

The transition plan had an enormous influence on corporate restructuring that would highly influence various aspects in the workplace (Watson, p. 147, 2008). The plan was aimed at integrating companies to have a global outlook and increase their production capacities. This is because of increasing demand in the global market that exerted pressure on the domestic economy. The restructuring saw mergers in companies to produce products that were in line with the demand of their markets. Privatization was rampant to instil new strategies for many corporations for the sole benefit of society. In the industry, various firms are adopting various strategies to conform to the various demands resulting from restructuring. Issues such as fragmentation of the market, home working, and subcontracting have been ideas adopted in many organizations to improve the workforce (Watson, 190, 2008). The restructuring has led to the liberalization of trade and capital markets. The workforce has benefited because liberalization has made it easier to advocate for workers rights since it limits monopolistic practices, which stifles the plight of workers. The triple transition plan in corporate restructuring has led to a reduction in the autonomy of companies in South Africa. It has also achieved the role of regulating state influence in industrial matters. This has led to flexibility in developing workplace strategies, and national development goals, which has been channelled towards the elimination of apartheid structures and practises that existed in the corporate industry (Nobel & Lesufi, p. 93, 2005).

The triple transition has led to the increased organization of workers. The efficient organization has led to efficiencies in management and greater control by Africans over production processes. The post-apartheid workplace is characterized by a self-regulating system opposed to the colonial system, in which workers were forced to work using violence on the vulnerable and disenfranchised Africans. The plan gave a lot of autonomy to workers to exercise their discretion at the workplace depending on the situation at hand. This led to a positive organizational culture in the industry because workers participated in devising ways of coping with the various conditions of work (Watson, p. 172, 2008). The plan forced workers to respond to various changes in work organization and participate in various training programs. The plan also introduced various management strategies that were aimed at eliminating the discriminative organizational hierarchy. The institutionalized structures were for all, and African workers were given opportunities to occupy the high positions in the job racket. The elimination of the hierarchy gave room for increased worker interaction irrespective of positions that one occupied in the hierarchy or their racial origins. There was room for the development of requisite skills by the African workers that would ease work, and increase culture since African bosses easily worked with the employees. They were closer to them than their white counterparts were (Watson, p. 176, 2008).

The industry employs many individuals who perform different tasks to achieve the overall purpose of the company. Negotiation was difficult with their employers in the apartheid regime because the workforce was highly stratified. The difficulty was experienced in advocating for their rights and equality in such a working environment. The introduction of the triple transition plan enabled workers to have a collective bargain in advocating for their rights (Gruchy, Koopman & Strijbos, p. 106, 2008). Since the plan was aimed at creating equity and respect for workers rights irrespective of their race, the workers were able to merge and form a formidable organization to articulate for such rights. These bore fruit in the form of collective agreements that were reached between the organization management and unions that were formed to speed up the process of addressing these problems. Powerful collective bargaining demands the existence of several unions to advocate for various workers plights. An increase in trade unions is evident with the introduction of the plan. The increase in the number of unions has led to increased division in the labour force because different races formed unions to address their grievances against the other races. Various unions pursue different agendas based on their racial, ideological, and ethnic interests. This has led to a decentralized form of bargaining, as opposed to a centralized one, which advocated for European rights, leaving the plight of African workers unsolved (Gruchy, Koopman & Strijbos, p. 107, 2008).

The transition plan gave room for the expansion of employment relationships. This was seen in all areas of employment and availed labour to the industry in all situations. This has solved the problem of labour shortages because various means such as subcontracting labour, working in the shift by workers, and home working has made labour available in the industry at all times to ensure optimal production of goods and services needed by the market ( Nobel & Lesufi, p. 97, 2006). These employment relationships have been realized because of around plan that envisages worker rights and equity in the working environment. Dealing with any problems that arise out of the work relationships is easier because the workers are members of unions, and they benefit from all the schemes introduced by their unions aimed at giving better working conditions. The plan furthermore advocates for a change in the demographic composition of an organizations employment structure to improve the relations among the races thus forming a strong relationship ladder (Watson, p. 226, 2008).

Conclusion

The brutality of the European race was profoundly felt among countries where these foreigners existed for a long time. South Africa was one of the beneficiaries of the highest form of racial discrimination where there was a clear distinction between Africans and Europeans in all aspects of society. This prejudice was evident in the working environment where Africans were the main victims of the harsh mistreatment by their superiors and harsh conditions of work. Their fellow white counterparts were made superior through better pays; several benefit schemes, and white-collar jobs. The Africans were restricted to low levels in the job hierarchy and were never given time to improve their skills to qualify for high-level jobs. However, the late granting of independence ushered in changes through the triple transition plan that aimed at restructuring the country to prepare it for a multiracial workforce. The plan led to various changes from increased labour relationships to corporate restructuring, which were done for the sole benefit of the employees. The restructuring in the workforce ensured that the employers addressed workers rights. This was done through the formation of unions that articulated their rights, equal representation of workers in the industry, which was monitored by the trade unions, and efficiency of organizations through the employment of competent and qualified employees. The African workers also had time to develop the skills that would enable them to have the requisite skills to advance across the hierarchical order.

List of References

  1. Gruchy, S, Koopman, N and Strijbos, S, 2008. From Our Side: Emerging Perspectives on Development and Ethics, Lindengracht: Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  2. Nobel, H and Lesufi, I. 2005. Industrial Sociology: The study of work and society, Muckleneuk, Pretoria: University of South Africa.
  3. Watson, T.J. 2008, Sociology: Work and Industry, Britain, United Kingdom: Routledge.
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