Reflections on prospects and problems of globalisation on Nigerian women workers' interests in trade union leadership
While globalisation brought with it revolutions in transport, production, life expectancy, and standard of living, the present economic downturn has seen increasing exploitation of workers as businesses seek to reduce costs. Among the impacts of stuttering globalisation on Nigerian workers are: job losses via automation, outsourcing, mergers, and privatisation; wages failing to keep up with inflation; the feminisation of the labour force; forced de-unionising; and declining membership for unions who are increasingly unable to ensure workers rights are upheld, in part due to neglect by the government in terms of enforcing workers rights. The authors then discuss the topic of good, effective leadership in trade unions at a time of great change, emphasising that old ways of doing things will no longer suffice.
The authors conclude that there is a desperate need for what is known as ‘transformational leadership’ within trade unions, leadership that among other things transcends daily affairs, identifies and nurtures talent, and aligns internal structures to reinforce overarching values and goals. Such a transformation is needed to tackle numerous cross-cutting political, social, economic, and technological challenges. These include: declining memberships, anti-union legislation, child labour, corruption, the growth of the informal sector, increasing poverty, and new markets and technologies fuelling rapidly changing demographics and workplace diversity. The “unwritten rule” of most unions that sees leadership as the exclusive reserve of men must change to better reflect and deal with the highly gendered nature of workplace discrimination. Numerous international and national declarations are cited reaffirming women’s rights as workers, which are then juxtaposed with the actual involvement of women in Nigerian trade unions which, while increasing slightly, is still evidence of significant under-representation.