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National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI)

The extent and effects of casualisation in Southern Africa: Analysis of Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Research Report for the Danish Federation of Workers

Oupa Bodibe (editor)

National Labour and Economic Development Institute (NALEDI)

November 2006

SARPN acknowledges NALEDI as the source of this document:
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Introduction of scope of research

Purpose of the Study

This study explores and examines the extent of casualisation in the southern African region formal sector and its impact on workers and the economy. It is based on country studies in Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The increase in casualisation in the region’s labour market is a subject of great controversy. Increasingly casual employees are filling positions that are permanent in nature. Behind employee vulnerability in the region is the high levels of unemployment and accompanying poverty. Poverty has bred a dangerous work environment where many desperate job seekers in the labour force are willing to take any job for survival purposes rather than dignity. This is a big challenge for trade unions in their pursuit to protect and advance workers’ rights and foster decent work.

The study attempts to cover the following as per the terms of reference:

  • The effects of casualisation on the workforce in each of the countries and sectors nominated.
  • The comprehensiveness of national labour legislation in the face of assaults on conditions of work
  • The provisions for social protection for all workers.
  • The role of international companies in these sectors.
This report aggregates and summarise key issues canvassed in the country reports. The similarity of the challenges facing workers in the region is striking. First, it shows that casualisation is a global phenomenon driven by neo-liberal market restructuring. Second, corporate strategy is similar regardless of the country’s level of development. Yet, unions in the region lack a common approach in the same industry or company. Fragmentation and proliferation of trade unions is a major problem in the region.

Casual workers are falling through the cracks of protection by labour laws and social protection. They occupy a precarious position in the working place and society and are effectively a new underclass in the modern capitalist economy. Trade unions are battling to organise and represent casual workers and have to explore new strategies to organise and fight for the rights of casual workers.

This report will ultimately feed into a toolkit to be developed to assist the trade unions in the participating countries to advocate for the strengthening of their labour legislation and in so doing, asserting the strength of trade unions to protect and advance workers’ rights.

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