African Trade Unions

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African Trade Unions

What are the main reasons for state control of the Trade Unions in Africa?

What are the main reasons for state control of the Trade Unions in Africa?


The trade union is an organization of employees who work in groups to achieve mutual benefits such as good working conditions or higher wages. These unions are responsible for several departments such a trade, labor laws, and various other occupations. These trade unions have several roles and controls in the state, such as,

A service role, in the promotion of its employees.

A democratic role, in the creation of democratic environment at workplace

Granting assistance to specific groups: welfare role

Market role in bargaining for wages that impacts the economy

The following paper discusses the state control of trade unions in Africa in detail.


The chief purpose of the union thus being continuously improving and maintaining the working conditions of its workers. Trade unions work on a constitution which defines the authority to bargain at different levels, keeping in mind the restrictions by governmental organizations depending on the industry being dealt.

Trade unions originated in a part of Europe but soon made their way to the other parts of Europe and the world as well. The widespread was mainly in Canada, Colombia, Mexico, United States, Japan, Australia and South Africa, after industrial revolution. In South Africa, three point one million of the total workforce is engaged in trade unions; comprising of twenty five percent of the total population (Mapadimeng, 2007, n.d). Trade or labor unions are recognized by the Constitution of South Africa 1996. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is one of the largest trade unions of South Africa with one point eight million employees.

Generally in Africa it is observed that the employees working in trade unions comprise the upper tier of the society. Some critics take it pessimistically while the others are optimistic about it. The former ones argue that the restriction to the privileged minority lets these people to enjoy better living standards and other advantages. While the latter ones hold the view that these are the people who are comparatively active and are concentrated in the urban areas which are considerably important sectors of the state (Mapadimeng, 2007, n.d). The pessimistic ones believe that trade unions are weak organizations and the state has found it hard to control them. The trade unions were able to achieve autonomy, differing on a level from low (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Cameroon, Guinea and Togo) to medium (Nigeria, Mali and Senegal) to high (Zambia and Burkina Faso). The optimistic ones while state that despite the weakness the trade unions show, these were few of the organizations which were able to survive the post colonial regimes (Mapadimeng, 2007, n.d). The strategies like trade union centralization movement, introduction to the check off system and allocation of funds were chiefly responsible for the autonomy of trade unions.

The history of trade unions in Africa date back to the late nineteenth ...
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