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Title: Worker responses to work reorganisation in a deep-level gold mining workplace : perspectives from the rock-face
Author: Phakathi, T. T.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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In the early 1990s, South Africa’s re-entry into the competitive global marketplace and the first non-racial elections brought significant changes to an industry previously plagued by the racialisation of the labour process. South Africa’s post-apartheid work order led to the restructuring of the gold mining workplace, with a greatly increased emphasis on efficiency, productivity and equity. This period saw a number of gold mines reorganising work through new forms of working practices aimed at creating new kinds of workers who could identify with the goals of the company by expending rather than withdrawing effort at the point of production. There was a shift in the attitude of worker responses to managerial practices, from coercion to consent in the day-to-day running of the production process. This thesis examines worker responses to the reorganisation of work and their impact on worker and workplace productivity in a deep-level gold mine. At the core of this thesis are the perceptions, views, experiences and reactions displayed by underground work teams to management initiatives. The thesis highlights the significance of worker agency in managerially defined work structures – the capacity of underground gold miners to reshape and adapt management strategies in ways that make sense and enable them to maintain control over production and the effort-bargain. The findings presented in this thesis, particularly the gold miners’ informal or coping strategy of making a plan (planisa), reveal that underground work teams are not merely passive or docile reactors to management initiatives. They find opportunity to manipulate (and where necessary, avoid) new forms of management control in a variety of innovative ways that enable them to reassert their power and autonomy over their working day. Underground gold miners are not simply appendages to nor alienated beings in the production process but are able to take control of the production process, independent of management prescriptions, in ways which may embody resistance, consent or a subtle combination of the two. The thesis calls attention to workers’ subjective orientation, agency and resilience to new work structures – not just as recipients but also as shapers of such new work structures within the politics, limits and contradictions of capitalist production systems.
Supervisor: Mills, Colin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology ; Management ; Human resource management ; Protein folding ; sociology ; consent ; agency ; workers ; management ; control ; resistance