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Project: Value Chains Capacity Building

The Value Chains Project supports efforts of trade unions in sub-Saharan Africa to renew their bargaining and organising strategies for tackling inequality in global value chains.

The LRS Value Chains Capacity Building Project works with trade union networks in Africa, supporting their ability to develop renewed strategies for organising and bargaining in order to confront inequality in global value chains. 

Value chains describe where a company or operation is situated on the production line and what power it has in the bigger picture of how things are produced. This has implications for trade union organising and bargaining.


Big South African and international retailers are now operating across sub-Saharan Africa. The companies include Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Walmart/Massmart, while clothing retailers such as Foschini and Truworths are also opening stores in the region. 

This development has created a network of manufacturers, intermediaries, and retail outlets in the region, part of which is entirely regional and part of which is the extension of global value chains. 

The Value Chains Capacity Building Project focuses on established union network alliances in wholesale and retail, agriculture and transport sectors.

It is important that trade unions understand the structure and governance of these value chains in order to develop responses that will address the unequal distribution of value and the exploitation of differing labour standards regionally. 

The LRS is a key resource to several trade union networks in the region. Supported by the DGB Bildungswerk Bund, the Value Chains Capacity Building project is building on the knowledge, relationships and lessons that underpin these networks. 

The project provides spaces where unions can share experiences and reflect on the implications of value chain mapping for organising and bargaining.

Key Project Contact: 

Trenton Elsley

trenton@lrs.org.za