Africa

Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verdi
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Congo
Congo, DR
Cote d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Sudan
Sudan
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Zambia

The colonial era and capitalist exploitation of the continent’s natural resources played a critical formative role in African nation states, establishing structures aimed at maximising the extraction of labour from African communities, often by force. European and other multinational companies retain extensive interests in mining and resource extraction. Anti-colonial rhetoric remains a potent political force in much of the continent.

Unionisation rates are mostly low but unions have some strength in the public sector, despite huge cuts to the public sector promoted by the international financial institutions. Most employment is in the unregulated and poorly organised informal economy. Many countries restrict freedom of association: in Algeria some unions have waited years for registration; in East Africa teachers, civil servant and health workers have faced particular restrictions on union rights. In Sudan and Egypt trade union monopolies were, and remain, entrenched by law and practice. In Francophone West and Central Africa, proliferation of unions fragments collective power.

In many countries the right to strike is restricted for ‘essential services’ (often including non-essential industries). Strike action can incur criminal charges in Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, and Zambia. Strikes are often violently repressed by private or state security forces. In South Africa in 2012 at the Marikana mine police shot more than one hundred striking miners with military-style weapons, killing 34 of them.

In Somalia freedom of association is highly precarious, and violence and repression against trade unionists has been reported. Following Western military intervention in Libya violent attacks have been reported against fledgling unions there. In Swaziland arrests and harassment are common and the government blocked registration of the TUCOSWA trade union centre for years. In Equatorial Guinea trade union rights are almost totally repressed.

Full details for all countries in the region, including political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profiles: Trade Unions of the World (2016)

 

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

Established in 1987, ICTUR is a non-profit organisation
based in London, promoting international trade
union rights through research and advocacy services.
Email: ictur@ictur.org / Web: www.ictur.org