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[PANEL] 0303 DEVELOPMENT AND LABOUR IN THE HORN OF AFRICA: OUTLINING THE CONTOURS OF A KEY RELATIONSHIP
Stefano BELLUCCI, Leiden University, International Institute of Social History, Netherlands
ANDREAS Admasie, Leiden University, International Institute of Social History, Netherlands
Stefano BELLUCCI; SAMUEL Andreas Admasie; GUBAYE Assaye Alamineh; BIRHANIE Alemu;
WUHIBEGEZER Ferede; AKLILU Kahsay; GIRMA Negash Ture; Zaccaria MASSIMO; Kana MATSUBARA;
Sandra Kristine HALVORSEN; Camille Louise PELLERIN
At the centre of the project of development is human labour. Not only is the labouring population assumed the ultimate beneficiary of the process of development, but also its motive force. The central role of labour is particularly pronounced in late developing economies where a labour-intensive orientation is the most feasible path to international competitivity. Export-orientation enhances this fact. But while at the centre of the configuration, the requirements of increased surplus generation and accumulation puts increasingly high pressures on the conditions of labour. The wage labouring population in Ethiopian and on the Horn of Africa is rapidly increasing while the relations and conditions under which this population enters the labour force is equally transforming. At this key conjuncture, where labour emerges as a central subject and object of the developmental process, the absence of labour from the scholarly discussion is glaring. Labour, when appearing in recent scholarly literature, is treated merely as a factor of production, not as a social force and a subjective, constituent part to the developmental process. This state of things requires address. The ambition of this panel is to bring together scholars across the academic disciplines interested questions pertaining to the position of labour within developmental efforts on the horn: in a contemporary as well as historical perspective.
We welcome submissions from all social scientific and historical disciplines. We also welcome discussions of phenomenon on micro- as well as macro-level, with a regional as well as a country-specific focus, as long as it engages with the question on the position of labour within developmental efforts in the region.
A CLOSED OR AN OPEN HISTORICAL PARENTHESIS? ITALIAN LABOUR AND THE “VALORISATION” POLICIES IN THE HORN OF AFRICA, 1890-1941 [Abstract ID: 0303-05]
Italian colonialism constituted a relatively brief period in the modern history of the Horn of Africa. However, Italian investments – despite the fact that Italy was not a country with much capital and goods to export – in the region were rather significant and produced important structural changes in some local economies. The paper analyses the labour policies that were put in place by Italians during the colonial years in Eritrea and Somalia and during the military occupation in Ethiopia (and in the AOI). The paper concentrates especially on the agency of Italian labour immigrants working in colonial enterprises. Three are the economic sectors that will be taken into consideration: agriculture, public works, and the military. What the paper will try to examine is the labour regimes set up by Italians within these sectors and possibly if these policies produced any lasting effect in the local economies. Italians were mainly either farmers’ concessionaries or free wage workers. Farmers were owners of their means of production and employers of other Italian workers but also Africans, from the Horn and beyond. Wage workers were working for the colonial state, for big investors in public and private works, and for “adventurous entrepreneurs”. The labour and industrial relations introduced by the Italians differed from the mode of production of imperial Ethiopia (referred to by some historians as feudal mode of production); and this paper will try to explain how these systems of labour exploitation did not leave the region with the departure of Italians after 1941.
AGENCY, ORIENTATION AND POSITION OF LABOUR IN THE ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY: STRIKES, STRUGGLES AND WAGES, 1960-2010 [Abstract ID: 0303-04]
While development projects have been espoused by all Ethiopian governments over the last half-century and more, the role and position of labour within this project has been the subject of sharp revisions. In recent times, both the position of labour and the agency of workers in shaping the developmental project has been reduced to that of a mere factor of production. In academia too, most scholarship on labour has focused on productivity levels. By revisiting the past orientation and position of Ethiopian labour, this paper aims to reframe a discussion on the agency of workers in shaping the political economy and its own position within it. The paper aims to explore the relationship between the agency of Ethiopian wage workers – exercised through the labour movement, and conditioned by its strategic orientation – and the shifting position of labour within the Ethiopian political economy over the past half-century. Orientation is measured by taking stock of different historic levels of militancy expressed in strike action and unrest, and the position of labour is measured in the differing levels of output retained by labour – both in terms of wages and the wage share of total output. The paper builds on original research from recently completed PhD research, which includes sources from a number of Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian archives, such as those of CETU, MoLSA, ICFTU, ILO, the Tom Killion papers, and more. It also includes archival data from a couple of Ethiopian workplaces, and newly compiled time-series of deflated manufacturing wages according to CSA data.
EMPOWERING WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN TOURISM LABOUR FORCE IN AMHARA REGION, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0303-02]
In recent years, tourism has acquired widespread support as a tool for sustainable development. Hence, alternative forms of tourism such as ecotourism, pro-poor tourism, volunteer tourism, and community-based tourism have emerged. While a sustainable tourism development strongly emphasizes environmental issues, it seems that socio-cultural issues have been overshadowed. Gender considerations need to be included in a critical analysis of the socio-cultural impacts of these emerging forms of tourism. This research seeks to verify how the participation of women in the tourism industry enhances their empowerment in Amhara Regional state. The discussion spins around issues such as the female labour force involved in ecotourism; the nature of their participation, including their motivations to engage in ecotourism and challenges encountered; approaches employed to address these challenges; and future directions in the aforementioned issues in relation to their empowerment. Empowerment is operationalized as a multidimensional process with political, psychological, social, and economic dimensions experienced individually and collectively. The findings of this research revealed that women's labour force involvement in ecotourism within the Amhara region is receding. Women's involvement in tourism is confined to low skill and low reward tasks. Women have been involved in tourism primarily through producing and selling cultural artifacts to tourists. They are also involved in facilitating tourism through the provision of food and beverages. However, in Amhara, women's participation in making decisions or serving as community leaders for ecotourism is in its infant stage. Our findings indicate that female empowerment and participation can be successful in promoting ecotourism projects; therefore, the incorporation of gender analysis assessment that examines the level of women's labour force will be of use to persons engaged in supporting community development.
MARGINALIZATION OF ARTISANS AND ITS SEQUELS: CASE OF CENTERAL TIGRAY [Abstract ID: 0303-09]
This study was undertaken in central Tigray, which is the epicenter of a significant legacy of Ethiopia’s ancient Axumite civilisation. It is also a living museum, with many traces of artistic excellence and innovation by artisans. The indigenous craft knowledge system was critical to the production of technology and to the transmission of intellectual traditions and technical skills from generation to generation. However, over time, the profession lost social support and technological innovation and excellence declined at an alarming rate, as the new generations became indifferent to craft vocations and learning. The purpose of this research was to examine the causes of the marginalisation of artisans/craftsmen and its concomitant impact on rural livelihoods in central Tigray. The research points to a close link between the rural economy and the products of artisans. However, the consumers of these craft products usually denigrated, ostracised and marginalised artisans. The analysis of the data collected through FDG, in-depth interviews, field observation and informal discussions with various sections of the community in and around Axum, along with secondary documents, indicates that the source of this paradox was a mix of foreign conspiracy, feudal mindset, monastic orders and the association of the belief in the evil eye (Boudda) with the craft professions. As a result, a technological renaissance in the country at large and the transformation of rural livelihoods in central Tigray demand a revival of the indigenous skills of the craft professions and the demystification of the beliefs held about artisans, by empowering them socially, economically and politically.
MILESTONES IN THE EARLY HISTORY OF LABOUR LEGISLATIONS IN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0303-07]
This study explores the early origins and genesis of labour related legislation in imperial Ethiopia. It examines when and how the issue of labour captured the attention of lawmakers/lawgivers. It also probes the motives and the stimulus for some of the early labour legislation. How did the early legislators understand labour conceptually, and what were the areas of intervention for the imperial state and its degree of tolerance for labour demands and labour organizations of any form. Arguably, 1908 was the year when the earliest labour-related law was enacted by the Ethiopian state. Documents show that Emperor Menilik II emphatically called upon his subjects to respect and appreciate workers, in a remarkable departure from past practice. Since then, the evolution of labour legislation has been a dynamic process punctuated by many twists and turns which merit historical analysis. The enigma of why labour legislation became necessary in a rural economy massively dependent on agriculture has attracted little scholarly attention. Economically, to say the least, Ethiopia at the turn of the 20th century was hardly industrialised or capitalist. Culturally, traditional Ethiopian society despised manual work. Metal workers, potters and even traders were overtly despised and marginalised. In many Ethiopian communities, such workers were outcasts barred from inter-marriage and property rights, including land ownership. Moreover, at the time Ethiopia opted for the earliest labour legislation, wage labour was a rarity. What was the inspiration for labour law? This study examines the available sources to unlock this mystery. At a time when labour is emerging as a central issue of the developmental process, and existing labour law is undergoing reform, this study offers a relevant insight into the origins of Ethiopian labour law.
RECRUITING SOLDIERS. MILITARY LABOUR AND RECRUITING PRACTICES IN THE HORN OF AFRICA (1912-1941) [Abstract ID: 0303-10]
Labour historians have always been reluctant to consider military service as work. The general tendency has been to relinquish the issue to military historians, who unfortunately have showed little interest in military labour. The same attitude has characterised Africanist scholarship, which for too long has ignored and marginalised research in the field of military studies. From 1912, the year in which the first Eritrean troops were sent to Libya, the Italian administration faced a shortage of conscripts that was partially addressed by tapping neighbouring countries, like Ethiopia and Yemen. In effect, soldiers were workers in possession of particularly sought after professional skills that facilitated their international mobility. The original nucleus of the Schutztruppe in German East Africa included among its ranks Sudanese recruited in Cairo as well as from Portuguese East Africa. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that in 1912, Dante Odorizzi, regional commissioner of Assab (Eritrea), discussing the mobility he had noticed among the Afar, pointed out how there had been some who had gone as far as Dar al-Salam in order to enroll in the Schutztruppe, or to Kassala and Ghedaref, to join the Sudanese army. This paper analyses Italian recruitment practices in Ethiopia and Yemen, two countries that contributed tens of thousands of men to the Italian colonial armies in Eritrea and Somalia. The paper will illustrate and discuss the transnational dimension of military work in this part of Africa and will show how transnational mobility represented, in recruitment and service practices, one of the major features of military labour in the Horn of Africa.
SKILL FORMATION AND DIVISION OF LABOR IN ETHIOPIAN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY: FOCUSING ON EMPLOYEES IN LEATHER SHOES INDUSTRY [Abstract ID: 0303-06]
Ethiopia is one of the few countries whose manufacturing industries have been recording high growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where manufacturing is generally not performing well. The country’s average annual growth rate during the last decade has been 12.8%, far higher than the 3.9% recorded for SSA. Ethiopia’s leather shoe production sector has also been growing rapidly. Before 1991, there were only two medium/large enterprises, but by 2015 the number had grown to 21. Ethiopia possesses a complete supply chain for shoe production, from raw materials, namely hide and skin, through to the end product, because the country has abundant livestock. Moreover, the Ethiopian government provides support for the leather industry through several policy measures. The Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) under the Ministry of Industry conducts vocational training programs and provides facilities. This study aims to clarify skill formation and division of labor in the leather shoe industry as a typical example of a high-performing manufacturing sector in Ethiopia. The reason for this focus is that human resources are a key factor for enterprise development. I therefore describe working methods and organization in the industry. I researched six enterprises (two small, two medium-sized, and two large) in Addis Ababa. My research methods were participant observation and employee interviews. I identified differences in both the division of labor and in skills formation depending on company size. In the bigger companies, the division of labor is more precisely specified. With regard to skills formation, while all the companies provide on-the-job training irrespective of their scale, the medium-sized and large enterprises organize systematic training programs which entail direct or indirect costs.
THE SHORT-TERM IMPACTS OF FACTORY EMPLOYMENT ON THE FERTILITY CHOICES OF YOUNG MARRIED WOMEN: EVIDENCE FROM ETHIOPIA USING A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL [Abstract ID: 0303-08]
In this paper we examine the causal effects of working in the export-led manufacturing industry on women's fertility choices by use of a randomized field experiment. Over a period of six months, we followed 709 married women who applied and were eligible for a job in the light manufacturing industry in Ethiopia. Half of the sample was randomly assigned to receive a job offer, while the other half were rejected. We find strong effects on income by treatment. Moreover, we find that respondents who had a formal wage job the last six months are less likely to be pregnant at follow-up. However, there are no effects on desired lifetime fertility, nor on household decision-making power.
TRADE UNIONS AND THE DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENTAL STATE IN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0303-01]
An increasing number of academic works have investigated the Ethiopian “Democratic Developmental State” model and the country’s state-led industrial policies. However, despite the government’s strategic focus on labour intensive manufacturing and agroindustrialisation in its national development plans, few studies have touched upon labour issues and little is known about the role of trade unions in the EPRDF’s developmental state project. Studying the relationship and patterns of interaction between the EPRDF government and trade unions in Ethiopia since 1991, the paper explores the role of trade unions in the developmental state project and their ability to represent the interests of labour vis-à-vis the Ethiopian government and national and international employers. The paper draws on 48 semi-structured and unstructured interviews conducted in Addis Ababa between November 2015 and April 2017. Interviewees included union representatives and employees at the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, at the industrial federations and at basic trade unions, as well as employees at relevant public organisations and labour experts.