chapter  2
36 Pages

Divisions in the working class

Contrasts are found between urban and rural, skilled and unskilled, organised and unorganised, enfranchised and unenfranchised, free and unfree workers. South Africa is unique, however, in that the state has superimposed on all these material differences a series of legal divisions on lines of colour or race. To the extent that they are enforced the legal divisions are always in the foreground. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the material differences to which the legal distinction may relate in any given context. In general it can be said that white workers are relatively organised, skilled and free, while black workers are in an opposite position. But this is only a generalisation. The only respect in which the real and the legal distinctions are entirely at one is that white workers have the right to vote in parliamentary elections, while all other workers are denied this right.