The Ascent of African Labour Internationalism: Trade Unions, Cold War Politics and the ILO, 1919–1960

  • Stefano BellucciEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


The year 1919 is a pivotal one for African labour history. The purpose of this chapter is to present the ways in which African labour organisations became involved in the internationalisation of the labour question between 1919 and 1960, the symbolic ‘Year of Africa’, when most African colonies attained national independence. Indeed, African workers’ organisations took part in what in this book is describing as the internationalisation of the labour question, which in Africa coincided with fundamental social and economic transformations: the emergence and expansion of so-called free wage labour. The widespread introduction of wage labour in colonial Africa led to the formation of reformist as well as, but to a lesser extent, communist trade union centrals. A workers’ consciousness and the introduction of labour rights were the main features linked to the internationalisation of the labour question. Finally, this chapter seeks to analyse which, if any, challenges the internationalisation of the labour question has posed in Africa, north and south of the Sahara, since the creation of the International Labour Organization.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Social HistoryAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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