Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Trade Unionism in Cameroon: From Crisis to Revitalisation? 431
PIET KONINGS Trade Unionism in Cameroon: From Crisis to Revitalisation? 1. Introduction Trade unions across Africa are facing similar challenges in the current period of neo-liberal globalisation but their responses to the far- reaching economic and political reforms have varied (Kester and Sidibé 1997; Beckman and Sachikonye 2001; Konings 2006). Some have shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the dramatic effects of neo-liberal reforms and even to revitalise their organisations. They have taken a number of innovative steps to tackle their organisational problems in the rapidly changing economic and political environment in order to remain meaningful to their memberships. Others, however, are in deep crisis. Cameroonian trade unions, as I intend to demon- strate in this contribution, clearly belong to this latter category. I shall first describe some of the major problems and then assess the future prospects of trade unions in Cameroon. 2. Cameroonian Trade Unionism in Deep Crisis Compared to a number of other African countries, there is a striking absence of any detailed research on trade unionism in Cameroon. However, existing studies agree that the long-standing crisis in the Cameroonian trade union movement has deepened during the current economic and political liberalisation processes (Eboussi Boulaga 1997; Abega 1999; Konings 2006). Cameroonian trade unions appear Piet Konings 432 to have failed dismally to cope with the new situation let alone achieve a much-needed revitalisation. The movement faces a multi- tude of problems and I restrict myself here to presenting the gravest. Lack of Autonomy One of the...
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