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Ntuli, Ike M (2010) Social Movements Theories and Union Activism at Higher Education Institutions.  : 1-16.

This paper is concerned with the theoretical framework involving the use of social movements approach to union activism. The reader should note two assumptions here with regard to trade unions. First, trade unions are seen as kinds of social movements because they are organized social formations challenging the existing power relations and decision-making processes in the workplace. Second, trade unions are very crucial in the conception and execution of the idea of freedom as brought about by developmentalists in both the economic and the political arenas of social life.

These two sets of theories will together be used to examine the reasons behind the necessity of trade unions and the benefits that arise from trade union activism. Concepts in these theories include social movements, factors motivating people to join or otherwise, unions or movements; social capital, development; freedom in its broad sense to include the economic, social, cultural as well as political aspects of the term. The overall conclusion, however, is that unions at higher education institutions are very important as they seem to be the only vehicle in the sense of a ‘movement’ at the workplace with the statutory mandate to challenge decision-makers in the workplace. Unions, in this sense, are in a good position to empower their members and the latter could accrue more ‘freedoms’ in both their personal lives as well as in more political / public life in the sense of participation in public platforms and debates and to challenge undemocratic systems.

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