Trade Unions and the Coming of Democracy in Africa

Trade Unions and the Coming of Democracy in Africa

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This book uniquely depicts the preeminent role that African trade unions played in ousting dictatorships and bringing democracy to many African countries in the 1990s.  In the analytical introduction and case studies of major African countries, leading scholars relate how democratic trade unions were critical in launching and sustaining democratization. Working with other societal groups and parties, unions continue to represent the popular classes and invigorate democratic life in these otherwise elite-dominated countries.

Jon Kraus is Professor Political Science, State University of New York Fredonia.

“This collection is an important demonstration of the role unionized workers play in post-colonial Africa in forcing out the authoritarian rulers during the democratic wave of the 1990s. At the empirical heart of Kraus’s valuable collection are seven original country case studies—on Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia—and an excellent overview of the democratization process in Africa. Trade Unions and the Coming of Democracy in Africa fills a major gap in the literature on trade unionism in Africa. It also develops an original and compelling argument on why unions have emerged as key actors in the struggle for democracy in Africa. Kraus has performed a major service to scholars and activists alike in stimulating an informed debate on some of the key issues facing Africa today.”—Industrial and Labor Relations Review 

“This is an excellent, timely collection addressing an important topic which has not received adequate attention in the recent literature. It asserts the centrality of trade unions to the democratization process in Africa, providing both valuable editorial overviews and a set of original case studies of the role played by unions in an array of individual African countries.  This is a volume which no serious student of labour can be without.”

–Roger Southall, Honorary Research Professor, Sociology of Work Programme, University of the Witwatersrand

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, this book suggests that organized labor is part of the solution to Africa’s economic and political malaise, not part of the problem. Unionized workers have played an important role in forcing out authoritarian rulers during the democratic wave of the 1990s and in protesting against neoliberal economic reforms. I highly recommend this volume to anyone interested in Africa’s democratic experiments or the evolution of African union movements.”
— Richard Sandbrook, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
“The strength of the book rests on the authors’ ability to comprehensively explore the historical, political and economic conditions for trade unions in various African democratic transitions…This carefully compiled and edited book is a “must read” for all serious students of African politics and governance.”