Union Education in Nigeria. Labor, Empire, and Decolonization Since 1945

Book review

Autor(en): Tijani, Hakeem Ibikunle
Titel: Union Education in Nigeria. Labor, Empire, and Decolonization Since 1945
Ort: Basingstoke
Verlag: Palgrave Macmillan
Jahr: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-137-00358-4
Umfang/Preis: 176 S.; € 70,16

Rezensiert für geschichte.transnational und H-Soz-u-Kult von:
Lisa A. Lindsay, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 

In the context of devolving political authority to African personnel, British officials in colonial Africa worked to ensure that "sound industrial relations" would be maintained in government and industry after Independence. By this they meant that trade unions would function relatively smoothly so that the economies of Britain's former colonies-still dominated by foreign firms--would not be disrupted by strikes or other labor disturbances. They also meant quashing labor movements that sought to radically reorient production or that were affiliated with international communism. Frederick Cooper's Decolonization and African Society (Cambridge University Press, 1996) showed clearly that establishing predictable, anti-communist labor relations was an integral part of decolonization. Hakeem Tijani's study of Union Education in Nigeria offers a specific focus on how this transpired in Nigeria in the period just before and after independence in 1960. His focus is on training programs for staff of the Nigerian Labour Department (later Ministry of Labour), Nigerian union leaders, and labor officers for various foreign companies operating in Nigeria, as well as the larger political context in which they operated.

The topic is significant, because it shows one of the ways that colonial officials endeavored, and were able, to shape Nigeria's economy and society after independence. Through anti-communist labor education, labor policy makers aimed ultimately to benefit Western companies doing business in Nigeria and to preserve the country as a pro-Western political ally.

Though other studies have extensively treated the history of industrial relations in colonial and postcolonial Nigeria, Tijani has drawn on newly available archival materials, including Foreign Office and Colonial Office files on "Countering Communist Policy in Nigeria," declassified in 2006. These make clearer than ever before the active efforts of British officials to suppress left-leaning labor leaders and organizations and support pro-Western ones. In particular, they aimed to keep Nigerian workers away from the leftist World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and close to the London-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) as well as the British Trades Union Congress (TUC). Newly available records from the British Communist Party and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also shed light on international interest in trade union organization in Nigeria after Independence.

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