The legacies of coercion and the challenges of contingency: Mozambican unions in difficult times

Pauline Dibben, Geoffrey Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Although insecure work may be found everywhere, the general lack of secure work in emerging economies is a particularly striking feature of the contemporary condition, undermining the continued viability of the labour movement in such countries. Yet, this topic is rarely tackled directly in African studies or business history journals. The two key questions addressed in this paper are, first, to what extent does the labour movement’s past define their present and future, and second, what are the challenges and opportunities affecting their ability to mobilise workers, influence government and effectively tackle employment security? This article details how in Mozambique, unions’ ability to mobilise has been affected by: the post-colonial, post-conflict and post-socialist historical context; the resulting legacies of regional and racial discrimination; international imperatives for liberalisation and privatisation; challenging relationships with the country’s African neighbours; and high levels of informal sector work. In order to remain viable, key imperatives include: effectively influencing national government, engaging internationally and working with organisations representing informal sector workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-140
Number of pages15
JournalLabor History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • employment security
  • Mozambique
  • Trade union

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