Review from ROAPE Volume 2 Number 3
Role of Trade Unions in Development: Ghana (Damachi)
Ukandi Damachi treats his subject within the traditional industrial relations triangle of unions-management-government. The title of the book is misleading since it is in reality a case study of Ghana with a ten-page introduction on the role of trade unions in the development process. Damachi is concerned with the problem of industrial peace in a ‘developing nation’ . He analyses systematically the relations of union and state, of labour and management, and other union activities under four political periods. These are the period of two-party rule following independence (1957-60), the single-party regime of Nkrumah (1961-6), the military regime of 1966-9 and the parliamentary period under Busia from 1969 to 1971. Damachi suggests the reoccurrence of the following pattern in Ghana: government control of the Trade Union Congress; consequent worker apathy and antipathy to the TUC; cautious TUC activity that nonetheless ‘sabotaged’ productivity, compelling government to bring in austerity measures; and then militant union action against these, leading to a crisis. The existence of a cycle in union-government relations in Ghana is beyond doubt-even if one does not accept the way it is presented by Damachi. It gives rise to the question of whether one can meaningfully speak of four different periods, a point reinforced by Damachi's stress on the way the independent regimes repeated colonial control practices. Unfortunately, however, Damachi gives us little more than this. Based as it is on reading and a three-month field trip, it is difficult to imagine how a short book covering this long time span could do more than give a general but shallow sketch. Additionally, Damachi's theoretical assumptions are flat statements supported by argumentation. Thus, he uses a ‘so-called accommodation-conflict framework’ which is neither defined, explained or justified. And on page 7, when he feels the need to ‘define what we mean by development’ , he says that this is not simply economic, ‘It also entails social and political modernisation’ . Full stop. This seems hardly adequate in dealing with a country in which labour-government conflict has largely revolved around differing notions of development.