Trade union survival strategies under globalization : a case study of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the Pietermaritzurg Hullett Aluminium branch in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
There is an ongoing discourse among theorists on the real effect that globalisation has had on trade unions in different countries. Some trade unions in other parts of the world have experienced a massive decline in their membership through job losses and casualisation of labour. It is been believed that the freeing up of capital flows and the mobility of capital to name a few have all contributed significantly to this shift. In return, trade unions are left impotent because off their inability to protect the interests of their membership. This research explores the strategies that trade unions are using for survival in the context of a changing work environment. The changes in the workplace have been to a large extent attributed to globalisation pressures, which require fims or organisations to be competitive in order to compete on the global arena. This requirement to become competitive has translated in many implications for trade unions and most of these implications have affected labour drastically. This research in particular looks at the trade unions in the manufacturing sector in an attempt to establish whether or not the trends that have impacted on other parts of the world have also affected the local territory. Hullett Aluminium, Pietermaritzburg branch was researched as a primary source of data. This research makes use of qualitative data to study the phenomenon in-depth. Interviews were held with both the management and trade unions in the Hullett Aluminium plant in Pietermaritzburg. The research revealed that one of the most critical strategies at the heart of the union's survival is the training of its membership. This is due to the fact that there has been a shift from the demand of unskilled labour, and that those who were previously employed as such are becoming redundant. Thus, with the acquisition of skills, employees are able to be employable and not prone to job losses which affect the trade union's membership.