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Asafu-Adjaye, Prince (2021) Trade Union Responses to Economic Liberalisation in Ghana. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study draws on three case studies to investigate the response by trade unions in Ghana to economic liberalisation. The first case study documents trade union struggles to counter the commercialisation and privatisation of electricity in the country in the last decade. The second and the third case studies explore the capacity of trade unions to engage with the deregulation and informalisation of the labour market. The second case study studies the market of informal food catering in Accra, its labour market, and the strategy and contradictions emerging from attempts to organise informal food caterers in the past ten years. The third case study analyses the regulatory changes in the port sector in Ghana since 2000, how this affected the labour market and labour in Tema and Takoradi ports, and the responses of a Ghanaian trade union to these changes. Taken together, the findings of this research contribute to the existing literature on trade unions. The dissertation argues against influential overgeneralisations about the incapacity of trade unions to defend the interests of workers under neoliberalism and economic liberalisation, and instead calls for a more grounded and context-specific study of their relevance. The case studies presented in this dissertation present a mixed picture, where some tangible improvements were won by organised labour, alongside defeats and difficult compromises. Above all, this study shows that analysis of the possibilities of organised labour must be grounded in the study of labour markets, and of the sources of power and vulnerability that workers derive from their economic location.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Matteo Rizzo
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2021 17:19

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