IMF-World Bank and Labor's Burdens in Africa: Ghana's Experience

IMF-World Bank and Labor's Burdens in Africa: Ghana's Experience

IMF-World Bank and Labor's Burdens in Africa: Ghana's Experience

IMF-World Bank and Labor's Burdens in Africa: Ghana's Experience

Synopsis

Globalization, the return to multi-party systems of government, and the policies advocated by the IMF and the World Bank have led to near revolutionary labor relations in Ghana and other African countries. These new social and economic forces have unleashed innovative as well as contradictory labor policies and practices that are having profound social, political, and economic consequences. The evidence presented by Panford indicates the failure of the policies of the IMF and the World Bank and calls for new and viable policies to enhance Ghana's global competitiveness and meet genuine development needs.

Excerpt

Although Ghana has retained some colonial labor statutes (see Appendix 1), the country has witnessed in the last decade and a half remarkable and even dramatic changes in industrial relations. The foundations for a formal labor movement in Ghana started in the 1930s. One of the pioneer trade unions was the Motor Drivers’ Union founded in 1931 (Obeng-Fosu, 1991:3). In 1939, Ghanaians employed by the railway companies organized a strike under the auspices of the African Employees of the Railway Workers Union (Arthiabah and Mbiah, 1995:15).

The first trade unions in Ghana, which was then known as the Gold Coast, were craft-based and comprised mostly of artisans employed by expatriate mining and railway companies and the British colonial administration (see Appendix 2). The founding of an indigenous workers’ movement was aided by the political pressures the nationalists brought on the British in their demand for self-rule. The British response was the passage in the Gold Coast of the Trade Unions Ordinance, 1941 (Cap 91), which was amended in 1954. The 1941 Ordinance and the establishment of the Labor Department in Kumasi (in the Asante region) in 1938 allowed trade unions to operate lawfully in Ghana for the first time. Until independence in 1957, however, workers were less successful in organizing strong unions (Obeng-Fosu, 1991; Arthiabah and Mbiah, 1995). After independence the rate of formation of unions and their activities, intensity and impact increased phenomenally. The political and economic influence of trade unions and workers peaked in the mid-1960s. That was when workers, led

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