Bank, Leslie J., Dorrit Posel, and Francis Wilson, eds. Migrant Labour after Apartheid: The Inside Story.

AuthorWa-Muiu, Mueni

Bank, Leslie J., Dorrit Posel, and Francis Wilson, eds. Migrant Labour after Apartheid: The Inside Story. Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council, 2020.

Migrant Labour after Apartheid: The Inside Story is an interdisciplinary study about the double-rootedness of migrant labor in post-apartheid South Africa. It explores how workers consider both their workplaces and rural homes as "home." These complex patterns are in constant motion depending on the socioeconomic conditions. This study is also about the strong connection that migrant workers still retain with their rural homes, although bonds are not as strong as they were in the past. Workers still prepare to retire in their rural homes, which they invest in also for important family gatherings and rituals. The reader learns about gender, identity, wages, and working conditions that these workers face. The volume's overarching theme is the impact of apartheid policies on contemporary migrant labor patterns. Notwithstanding the democratic government's various attempts to introduce new laws, the reader learns that apartheid labor patterns continue to have a significant impact on labor migration. For example, very few economic opportunities have been created in the former homelands, forcing some workers to seek economic opportunities elsewhere. Another factor that influences labor migration patterns is the lack of diversity in South Africa's economy. Land is still owned primarily by the white minority, and this also influences economic growth and labor migration. Most of the workers are forced to commute for long distances, live in informal settlements, or pay very high rent for housing. Labor migration affects how families interact with each other, both in the sending region (where the workers are leaving from) and in the receiving areas (urban or other rural centers).

Migrant Labour is divided into two parts. The first part covers chapter 2-11, while part 2 includes chapters 12-19. The editors provide a historical background of migrant labor in South Africa in the introduction while highlighting current scholarship on the topic. In so doing, they demonstrate the role that race continues to play in South Africa's migrant labor system, the violations of human rights, wages, and poor working conditions. Colonial ties and laws that supported it, such as the 1913 Land Act, continue to influence migrant labor patterns that developed under conditions which denied the Africans access to land...

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