Popular and labour protests have effectively resisted fuel subsidy removals. The dominant international discourse on fossil fuel subsidies emphasises that they contribute to carbon emissions and are economically unsustainable and socially inefficient. In that light, protests appear to challenge climate change mitigation and the interests of workers and the poor themselves. This chapter analyses dominant discourses and practices of fuel subsidy reform. Fuel subsidy withdrawals often target consumption subsidies in the Global South as opposed to production subsidies. Trade union perspectives from Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria show how they may deepen global and social inequalities, as the poor and workers are particularly vulnerable to fuel price increases in the context of limited access to social welfare and green energy. Furthermore, governments are not trusted to provide pro-poor welfare from savings after subsidy withdrawals. This chapter suggests that a just transition for workers needs to consider workers who depend on fossil fuel consumption in addition to those whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuel production.
- Fuel Subsidies
- Trade Unions
- Fuel Consumption
- Climate change
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The interviews for this chapter took place in 2019. The chapter has not considered the latest developments in these countries during COVID-19 and following the international fuel price fluctuations since March 2020.
I thank Jacob Høigilt, Professor of Middle East Studies of the University of Oslo, who helped check the translation from Arabic to English.
Reforms are gradual, not necessarily complete removals of fuel subsidies.
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Houeland, C. (2021). Labour Resistance Against Fossil Fuel Subsidies Reform: Neoliberal Discourses and African Realities. In: Räthzel, N., Stevis, D., Uzzell, D. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Labour Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71909-8_21
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