The paper aims to explore the impact of economic transformation on employment relations and the effect on the role and behaviour of unions and employers' organizations in Zambia.
The paper presents a review of existing studies on economic and political developments, backed by published and unpublished primary sources, as well as structured interviews with leaders of the tripartite partners.
The transformation of policy from centrally planned to market economy has by design or default undermined the role of trade unions and the employers' associations. This has in turn resulted in weakening the employment relationship.
The research has implications for understanding how economic liberalization affects labour market institutions and processes. Many of the findings are of relevance to policy reforms elsewhere in Africa. Therefore, the findings have important implications for work on labour market governance in other African countries.
This paper has implications for the tripartite partners in the employment relationship. It presents the critical need for policy review, and particularly strategic reorientation of the organizing strategies of trade unions and employers' associations, and the need to institute meaningful and effective consultative mechanism on social and economic policy making.
A substantial part of the information provided in this paper is unpublished, and brings to the fore unanticipated consequences of policy reforms on employment relations. In turn the paper identifies action areas in seeking to reverse the effects of unfavourable economic reform measures on employment relations.
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