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Back | Programme Area: The Social Effects of Globalization

Bargaining for Survival: Unionized Workers in the Nigerian Textile Industry

In this paper, Björn Beckman and Gunilla Andrae examine the experience of textile workers under adjustment. This is one of the industries within the Nigerian manufacturing sector that has adjusted relatively well, largely because of strong backward linkages with the national economy and the potential for export, especially to neighbouring countries. It is also an industry with a strong union movement.

The paper argues that union bargaining power owes much to the relative autonomy of the workforce, derived from three important features distinguishing Nigerian textile workers from their counterparts in countries of Asia, Latin America and Europe at similar stages of industrialization: the high educational status of the workforce; the existence of a smallholding agricultural sector which offers alternatives to industrial work; and the non-hierarchical nature of labour relations in the peasant economy.

In general, workers' power in collective bargaining has been linked to the economic fortunes of the industry itself. Although there was a steep decline in industrial performance after 1993, following protracted instability in the macro-economy and in politics, the authors believe that the powerful union-centred labour régime already in place will prevent disintegration of the working class in textile manufacturing.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Oct 1996
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1012-6511
    From: UNRISD