Working-class Commuters and Innovative Use of Associational Power: The Case of Mamelodi Train Sector in South Africa


  • Mpho Mmadi University of Pretoria



The article analyses the power resources of working-class train commuters in Tshwane, South Africa. I examine the organisational strategy of Mamelodi Train Sector (MTS), considering the crisis of representation characteristic of the South African labour movement currently. With changing composition of membership in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the article begins with the question, what strategies and avenues are there for both unions and unorganised members of the working class? Through the case study of MTS, I suggest a need to rethink power resources and strategies in order to appreciate various non-union ways in which workers continue to organise under conditions that are at times hostile to unions. Drawing on the Power Resources Approach, I argue that MTS can utilise its strategic site of operations and associational power to link unorganised workers with relevant unions. Through its on-train organising, MTS strategically uses its associational power to achieve two things: 1) to empower non-unionised workers, and 2) to influence local-level politics during the morning and afternoon commutes.

 KEYWORDS: Mamelodi Train Sector; train; comrades’ coach; associational power; political agency