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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines the political struggles of Nigerian trade unions during the diverse labor regimes since independence. Labor regimes are the complex of laws, institutions, and practices through which the relations between the state, labor, and capital are regulated and contested. Major changes in political regimes and in the economy led to almost continuous trade union challenges to government and company practices from the late 1970s to the present, expressed in numerous general strikes and strike threats against governments. Attempts by a military regime to incorporate/subordinate the union movement within the state’s embrace in 1978 created a new labor regime but had the contradictory effect of strengthening union membership and capabilities. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and member unions have been banned on two occasions, but union organization, generations of leadership, and combative traditions have enabled the union movement to persist in resisting state policies and employer obstructions. Union resistance often elicited widespread popular support. Democrat governments since 1999 have eliminated statist laws which supported unions, changing the labor regime to favor government and capital, part of overall market liberalization that works to weaken unions. Still, unions retain significant leverage.

Keywords: trade unions, labor regime, strikes, fuel subsidy, Nigerian Labour Congress

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