Contesting labour internationalism: the "old" trapped in the "new" in Volkswagen’s South African plant

Chris Bolsmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During the 1970s and 1980s, close linkages were established between unionists in Volkswagen's Uitenhage plant in South Africa and Wolfsburg in Germany. The ensuing relationship resulted in trade union internationalism and solidarity with South African workers in their struggle against apartheid. After the insertion of the South African plant into the global production networks of the company, a range of new pressures and challenges confronted the union in South Africa. This resulted in the mass dismissal in 2000. In an attempt to garner international support and solidarity, the dismissed workers tapped into existing structures with no success, illustrating the reconfiguration of trade union internationalism away from worker interests to those of the unions and company. © 2010 UALE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-539
Number of pages20
JournalLabor Studies Journal
Volume35
Issue number4
Early online date31 Mar 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

Keywords

  • automobile workers
  • IG Metall
  • NUMSA
  • South Africa
  • trade union internationalism

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