In Precarious Battle: Labour Broking in the South African Post Office

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University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, 2021 - Social Science - 344 pages
In Precarious Battle tells how labour broking was defeated in the South African Post Office (SAPO). Labour broking has become synonymous with worker exploitation. By 2011, a third of SAPO's workforce was employed through labour brokers. These 'casuals' worked alongside permanent employees, some for over a decade, but for a quarter of the salary. David Dickinson shares the story of how labour broking provided cheap and compliant labour, and how the use of labour brokers in SAPO divided the workplace and the workforce. He charts the attempts of casuals to organise within the law and how their efforts were defeated at every turn. He describes the increasing ferocity of the wildcat strikes that followed and explains how eventually 294 casuals, the Mabarete, fought their own battle and ended labour broking. This book reflects on how labour broking created misery for those trapped in precarious employment, how the Constitution failed casual workers and how the South African industrial relations system is unravelling.

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About the author (2021)

David Dickinson is a Professor of Sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand. He began researching In Precarious Battle when friends from Katlehong Township were employed as casuals in SAPO in 2009. A regular visitor and part-time resident in South African townships, he is particularly concerned with the challenges faced by the country's poor majority and their responses to adversity, uncertainty and inequality.

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