Cycles of Mobilisation, Waves of Unrest: Ethiopian Labour Movement History

Autore: Samuel Andreas Admasie
In: Africa. N.S. I/1,2019
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The history of the Ethiopian labour movement appears in the shape of repeated cyclical movements in levels of mobilisation. In contrast with the static depiction dominating the literature on the movement, this article examines how Ethiopian wage-workers have, over the past six decades, acquired, relinquished and redeveloped the collective coherence and organisational capacities to engage in sustained collective action, the strategic orientation and willingness to do so, and the resilience to fend off sustained counter-mobilization. The article discusses how the history of the Ethiopian labour movement is deeply entangled with, and mutually constitutive of, historical shifts in wage labour relations, and the struggle over these relations. In doing so it suggests a reciprocal relationship between Ethiopian workers’ achievements and strategic orientation. At the heart of the article is the notion of historical agency, which Ethiopian workers acting collectively have exhibited to a degree that is underappreciated in the literature. keywords: workers; labour movements; trade unions; strikes; labour relations