The recognition that employees and employers wield different levels of power in the workplace makes labour legislation a central part of the workplace. This is because the different levels of power possessed by the two parties impact not only on workplace decision making but also on the relationship between the two parties, thus, being the weaker party (worker), the importance of worker protection through legislation is very important. However, the extent to which all employees enjoy legislation protection has always been a bone of contention. The lack of employment security in certain sectors of the labour market is not always the direct consequence of a lack of labour legislation aimed at those sectors. Rather, factors such as supervising compliance and implementation of labour legislation are crucial towards achieving important goals of labour legislation such as job security and worker protection. This study attempts to understand the interplay between the nature of work, legislation and the impact on family and community life of taxi drivers, through studying the everyday work experience of local taxi operators. This study looks at the labour process of taxi driving in Mamelodi Township (Pretoria, Gauteng Province) and Jane Furse (Sekhukhune District, Limpopo Province). The study draws on post-Bravermanian labour process theory, work-life balance debates and labour geography for theoretical frameworks. This is an ethnographic study that mainly draws on the extended case method, supplemented with semi-structured interviews. Results indicate that taxi drivers work under harsh working conditions with very few employment-related benefits and little time for their families (social life). The drudgery of labour and the nature of the labour process motivate the need for taxi drivers to “make out”, as Michael Burawoy has described worker coping strategies. This involves what is termed binding, floating, sekero and rocky relations in this study. Findings also point out that current legislative stipulations, particularly the definition of a workplace, are incompatible with the nature of work characteristic of the minibus taxi industry. The study concludes that taxi drivers remain largely vulnerable and unprotected due to this mismatch between legislative stipulations and the nature of work in the industry. Related to the foregoing, the study concludes that the informality of the minibus taxi industry benefits to some degree both taxi drivers and taxi owners. The study also points out the fact that geography/space is critical to our understanding of certain industries and successful application of labour regulation laws. Finally the study concludes that different localities impact on the intensity and duration of the labour process(es) therefore negates the successful uniform application of labour laws.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2012.