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Apartheid was a political system that determined the relations between whites and other races in the Republic of South Africa. As an official policy it legitimized social stratification where blacks were on the bottom, coloured occupied middle positions and whites hold the top places on the social ladder. Although the roots of racial segregation and whites' domination are to be traced back in the colonial times, it was only after the Second World War when the system was legally introduced as a state policy. Apartheid collapsed in 1994 after a long time of struggles of the opposition with Nelson Mandela at the vanguard and strong support of the United Nations and world's public opinion.

Terms and conditions of work

On the job market blacks were facing dozens of restrictions, special regulations and discriminative rules. For example, they were not allowed to form their trade unions. Furthermore, black workers did not get paid once they were on the leave. In case of permanent disablement caused by an injury in the workplace, disable whites received annually more than disable blacks in a lump sum payment. Apart of the huge earning gap, which for example in 1969 the ratio was 20,1:1 (whites: blacks), whites were protected by the system of job reservation.

The deep categorisation of the job market based on the racist categories was supported also by the bureaucratic procedures all blacks had to undergo. For instance, unless African was registered at the Tribal Labour Office he was not permitted to leave the reservation and work outside, what was called, his homeland. Concluding, the government had total power to allocate or restrict African labour to certain areas and to certain employers. It is also worth to add that the segregation on the job market was supported by the segregation within the education system where the best schools and universities were open for whites only, while blacks had the access solely to the institutions which corresponded with their state of civilisation ranked much lower than whites civilization.

See also:


  • Lewis S. R. Jr. The Economics of Apartheid, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York 1990, p. 148.
  • B. Nair Through the eyes of the workers, in Reflections in Prison edited by M. Maharaj, Published by Zebra Press and the Robben Island Museum, Cape Town 2007, p. 158, 159, 166.
  • Richmond, A. H., & Valtonen, K. (1994). Global apartheid: Refugees, racism, and the new world order. Refuge: Canada's Journal on Refugees, 14(6).

Author: Arkadiusz Binczyk