Strikes are a key manifestation of the class struggle over the distribution of national income and reform of the labour relations system. Offensive strikes can generate an extraordinary amount of pressure on the social system which often leads to structural changes such as the reconfiguring of the industrial relations system, the economy or the political system. Such events are referred to here as a turning point ( Legassick, 2012; Alexander, 2013; Webster, 2016).
Strikes in post-apartheid South Africa
In the immediate post-apartheid period, the trend was for strikes to increase in frequency, with the highest number of strikes in South African history – 1 324 strikes – taking place in 1998. From 2000 and 2009, however, strikes averaged 71 per annum, which was even lower than the 1960s, and these strikes were largely defensive in character.