The Momentous 1960s – Reflections on an African Decade
This article examines the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) roles and impacts in labour relations and education in sub-Saharan Africa during the “glorious” 1960s. It historicise the genesis, challenges, and accomplishments in the area of labour union education – ACTRAV activities, its technical assistance programmes, Decent Work Projects, and its resolve to set international labour standards in sub-Saharan Africa. The setting of international labour standards is perhaps what separates the ILO from other international organisations as sub-Saharan colonies witnessed different levels of decolonisation during the post-World War II era. The article interrogates the place of sub-Saharan Africa in the mix of many annual sessions of the International Labour Congress (ILC) and its 200 conventions and a similar number of recommendations before the dawn of the 1960s. While the standards adopted in the early years were intended predominantly to protect workers in the physical performance of their work, as early as the 1930s the ILO had began to extend its standard-setting to a wider field of social policy, covering areas ranging from systems of social security to employment policy. The article examines the ILO’s Blueprint as it relates to its momentum in Africa and ACTRAV’s labour union education during the 1960s.