“I do not Have Anything Else, Bra”: The Hardships of Day Labourers in East London, South Africa, and the Implications for Developmental Social Welfare/Work


  • Mzukisi Xweso Department of Community Development, University of the Free State
  • Derick Blaauw North West University http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8750-4946
  • Catherina Schenck Department of Social Work, University of the Western Cape




day labourers, unemployment, hardships, lived experiences, coping strategies


The social work profession has seen significant changes in approach, with more focus on developmental social welfare in response to structural injustices, poverty, inequality, well-being and development. Day labouring is a global phenomenon and typical of the South African informal sector. This study analyses the hardships of day labourers in East London to reflect on developmental social welfare and its relevance for informal workers in South Africa. A sequential explanatory research design and a mixed-methods approach were adopted. In phase 1 (quantitative), 131 participants were interviewed. In the second phase qualitative interviews were conducted with 18 participants at six different hiring sites. The findings reveal that day labourers work under conditions in which even their basic human rights cannot be guaranteed. Failure to take decisive steps to ensure that their rights are upheld amounts to turning a blind eye to the gross exploitation of one segment of society by another. An inclusive, appreciative and participatory approach is needed to facilitate strategies to integrate informal workers such as day labourers into initiatives that are designed to grant social justice to groups who continue to be marginalised and to live in abject poverty more than two decades after the official demise of apartheid.


Metrics Loading ...



How to Cite

Xweso, Mzukisi, Derick Blaauw, and Catherina Schenck. 2020. “‘I Do Not Have Anything Else, Bra’: The Hardships of Day Labourers in East London, South Africa, and the Implications for Developmental Social Welfare/Work”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 32 (2):18 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2415-5829/7462.



Received 2020-03-06
Accepted 2020-06-03
Published 2020-07-06