According to Black (2014), the occupational environment can be difined as “the workplace surroundings that encompass the physical and social environment,”. The social environment can be seen as social relationships, immediate physical surroundings and cultural setting in which groups of people function and interact. It includes the industrial and occupational structure, the social and economic processes and labour markets among others. Social environments also include the social, historical and power relations that have become institutionalized over time. Social environments are dynamic and change over time as the result of both internal and external forces. ( Barnett & ...view middle of the document...
The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life was eventually influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the words of Nobel Prize winning Robert E. Lucas, Jr., "For the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth. ... Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before."
The industrial revolution was the turning point and the start of change in the work environment. It opened the way to question current employment and production approaches so it brought about continuous change in the work and occupational environment.
3. History of South African labour environment
The discovery of gold and diamonds led to the systemisation and formalisation of South African Labour Relations. Both skilled and unskilled labour was sourced (Venter & Levy, 2013, pp. 34-35). Originally the unskilled labour was sourced from the black population while skilled labour was sourced from the white population, but as the black workers developed skills, they became a threat to the ‘skilled white worker’. This led to the introduction of Ordinance no.17 of 1907 and the Mines and Works Act of 1911, which banned non-Europeans from certain kinds of work (Venter & Levy, 2013, p. 36). In 1924, white unions were formed and recognised, while at the same time excluding black workers from the definition of an employee, thus preventing them to form unions. The work environment during this period was tense, unequal and unfair, marked with large-scale industrial unrest, with strict focus on the distinction between the black unskilled worker and the white skilled worker.
The 1970s was marked by violent protest action among the black workers as they renewed their struggle against the repressive policies of the current government (Venter & Levy, 2013, p. 44). The government’s apartheid policies and the detention of black trade union activists were also repeatedly brought into the international firing line and it was met with massive international disinvestment and large-scale sanctions (Venter & Levy, 2013, p. 45). 1979 was considered the turning point for South Africa when the Wiehahn Commission was appointed who recommended the inclusion of black employees in the definition of an employee (according to the Labour relations Act).
4. Change in Labour Legislation
Regarding South African Legislation, significant chances were seen especially in the labour environment. Since the demise of the apartheid we saw tremendous changes such Apartheid laws that discriminated against blacks, Asians, coloureds, woman and the disabled has now over a transformation period been replaced with laws such as BBE, Employment equity and Affirmative Action. Various laws such as recognising the black worker as an employee in the Labour Relations Act, etc. (As discussed above) has been implemented...