Trade Unions in Malawi

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This chapter examines democracy from another angle that is the way democracy is rooted in the collective action of citizens outside of the formal institutions of democratic government. The trade union movement in Malawi dates as far back as the end of the Second World War. It has undergone a process of growth, decline and growth again over the past seven decades or so. To understand how trade unionism has developed in any country, we need to consider the political, economic and social context. In Malawi, the political context has been the most influential factor in the way trade unionism has developed. As Salamon (2000) points out, industrial relations context shapes employer-employee relationships and therefore the functioning of trade unions. This chapter examines the impact of politics on the growth and development of trade unions in Malawi from colonial times up to the present-day era of multiparty politics. It begins by defining what trade unions are, how politics impacts on their development and then looks in detail how the different political regimes in Malawi’s history have shaped the growth and development of trade unions. The chapter then looks at the structure of trade unions, how they operate and factors that have influenced the functioning of trade unions since 1994. It also looks at relationships between unions, trade unions and government and trade unions with employers. The role of trade unions beyond bread and butter and trade union involvement in politics are the two sections presented at the end of the chapter.

This chapter discusses the following issues:
a)What are trade unions and how do they achieve their goals or objectives? b)How do political systems influence trade unions and vice versa? c)How did trade unions develop in Malawi during the different political regimes? d)How has trade unionism grown since 1994?

e)How are trade unions structured?
f)What effect has...
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