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An Exploratory Study of Trade Union Pluralism in Ghana

Kenneth E. Parku, Yvonne Ayerki Lamptey


The practice of trade union pluralism at an enterprise level is seen as problematic for both the management of enterprises and the trade union movement. The problems arise from inter-union rivalries, competition and disputes over demarcations of privileges and rights. This article explores the practice of trade union pluralism at the enterprise level in Ghana with the aim of creating awareness of the effect of the practice on the general trade union movement. This qualitative study employed a cross-sectional design and used purposive and snowball sampling methods in selecting the participants. The data was analysed thematically. The findings from the study show that union pluralism is stimulating the decline in general union membership, the breakaway of local unions from the federations, and employers’ classification of workers based on their qualifications once they are employed by organisations, and their assignment to specific unions (automatic membership at enterprise level). It is suggested that employment laws encourage union breakaways, which weakens the unions especially at the enterprise level. It is recommended that the state, labour officials and policy-makers should enforce labour laws, especially regarding freedom of association, and consider revisiting or amending some labour laws to curb their abuse. The government and labour institutions need to work together to operationalise the implementation of legal provisions on freedom of association or consider amending the provisions to curb the existing abuse.


trade unions; union pluralism; enterprise level; collective bargaining certificate

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