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Beyond the nature-labour divide: trade union responses to climate change in South Africa

Räthzel, Nora, Cock, Jacklyn and Uzzell, David (2018) Beyond the nature-labour divide: trade union responses to climate change in South Africa Globalizations, 15 (4). pp. 504-519.

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We present the life histories of two environmentally engaged unionists in South Africa, who were decisive for formulating the environmental programmes of their respective trade unions. Their experiences of participating in the resistance against apartheid in universities and factories taught them the necessity to connect different struggles and equipped them with the knowledge and ability to connect the fight for workers’ rights with the fight against environmental degradation. Both activists experienced the difficulty of integrating ‘the environment’ politically and practically into a trade union agenda. The labour movement has traditionally experienced nature as a place outside of work to be enjoyed for recreation. While nature constitutes an indispensable condition for labour, it has been privately appropriated by Capital. For environmental policies to form an integral part of union agendas, nature needs to be wrestled away from its appropriation by Capital and understood as an inseparable ally of labour.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Räthzel, Nora
Cock, Jacklyn
Date : 9 April 2018
DOI : 10.1080/14747731.2018.1454678
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Labour environmentalism; South Africa; life histories; National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa; just transition; ecological crisis
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 01 Aug 2018 13:28
Last Modified : 26 Mar 2019 13:43

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