The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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In much of Africa, people look to trade unions for leadership, especially at times of economic downturn. Although Africa's wage-workers are relatively few in comparison to those in the informal economy, their experience of organisation and mass mobilisation and their position in the modern economy give them a strategic role in the politics of democratisation and development.

This volume examines the political role of trade unions in seven African countries and the various ways in which they seek to influence political parties and the state. Whereas some, like the Nigeria Labour Congress, push for a political party of their own, others, such as COSATU in South Africa, opt to engage with the power struggles in the ruling party. In Namibia and Uganda unions have been incorporated by a one-party dominated state while in Ghana, unions insist on being autonomous. There is also a move towards autonomy in Senegal, despite the plurality of unions with party affiliations. In the case of Zimbabwe, unions took the lead in creating an alternative alliance in opposition to a repressive state. Trade Unions and Party Politics provides a finely tuned critique of the impact achieved by these strategies, within the context of both the unique forces shaping them and the looming shadow of the new global economy.

With contributions by established researchers, all of them engaged scholars and seasoned labour activists in the countries studied, the volume makes a major contribution to understanding the dilemmas facing unions in contemporary Africa. While examining the relationship of trade unions to party politics, the contributions also provide new insights into the relationship of trade union action to the politics of national liberation, a theme that has not received sufficient attention in the existing literature.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 198mm x 148mm (Soft Cover)
Pages : 224
ISBN 10 : 0-7969-2306-X
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2306-6
Publish Year : 2010
Rights : World Rights

Preface
Acronyms and abbreviations

1. Trade unions and party politics
Bjrn Beckman and Lloyd Sachikonye

2. Autonomy or political affiliation? Senegalese trade unions faced with economic and political reforms
Alfred Inis Ndiaye

3. Disengagement from party politics: Achievements and challenges for the Ghana Trades Union Congress
Emmanuel O. Akwetey with David Dorkenoo

4. The failure of Nigerias Labour Party
Bjrn Beckman and Salihu Lukman

5. Trade unions, liberalisation and politics in Uganda
John-Jean Barya

6. The labour movement and democratisation in Zimbabwe
Lovemore Matombo and Lloyd M. Sachikonye

7. Unions and parties in South Africa: Cosatu and the ANC in the wake of Polokwane
Roger Southall and Edward Webster

8. Serving workers or serving the party? Trade unions and politics in Namibia
Herbert Jauch

9. Trade unions and the politics of national liberation in Africa: An appraisal
Sakhela Buhlungu

Contributors
Index

Bjrn Beckman is a professor of Political Science at Stockholm University in Sweden. He has written extensively on African trade unions, state and civil society, especially on Nigerian union politics. He co-authored Union power in the Nigerian textile industry with Gunilla Andrae (Nordic Africa Institute,Uppsala 1998, CRD, Kano 1999) and co-edited Labour regimes and liberalization: The restructuring of state-society relations in Africa with L.M. Sachikonye (University of Zimbabwe publications, Harare 2001). He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Review of African Political Economy.

Sakhela Buhlungu is a professor of Sociology at University of Johannesburg and formerly a co-director of the Sociology of Work Unit (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has a unionist background and contributes regularly to the field of South African labour studies, including as an editor of Trade unions and democracy: Cosatu workers political attitudes in South Africa and as a joint editor of State of the nation: South Africa 20052006, both HSRC Press 2006.

Lloyd M. Sachikonye is a professor in the Department of Agrarian and Labour Studies in the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare. He has written extensively on labour and politics in Zimbabwe and Africa, including Democracy, civil society and the state: Social movements in southern Africa (SAPES Books, Harare, 1995), Restructuring or de-industrialising? (Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, 1999) and the collection edited with Beckman mentioned above. He is a frequent contributor to the Review of African Political Economy.

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