Conclusion: Trade Unions and Democratization in Africa



Trade unions in many African countries played a muscular and seminal role in the late 1980s and early 1990s in mobilizing the mass protests and strikes that led to the overthrow of old authoritarian regimes and ushered in democratic transitions. In some other countries the unions’ intermittent strike movements and protests were critical in creating, over time, political “space” in which other social and political groups could mount protests and political coalitions. These crystallized in political liberalization and democratization. Moreover, in the post-transition period, trade unions have often continued to play leading roles in public and political life in ways crucial to the vitality of democracy in these countries. These democratic unions are responsive to their members who have generally not been beneficiaries of the market-oriented policies of the successor governments. These have invariably been in thrall and bondage to the zealous market advocacies and resource blackmails of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and foreign donor countries. Consequently, labor protests and strikes have often continued, being called by workers whose living standards and organizing rights have suffered under the democratic regimes they were crucial in creating.


International Monetary Fund Trade Union Union Membership Union Leader Authoritarian Regime 
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© Jon Kraus, ed. 2007

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