Angola Table of Contents
The UNTA was organized in 1960 in the Belgian Congo (presentday Zaire) to assist refugees and exiled MPLA members in their efforts to maintain social contacts and find jobs. Managing the UNTA became more difficult after independence. The UNTA headquarters was transferred to Luanda, where the shortage of skilled workers and personnel for management and training programs became immediately evident. UNTA leaders worked to transform the group from an adjunct to a national liberation army to a state labor union, but encouraged by the "people's power" movement, many workers thought the MPLA victory entitled them to assume control of their workplace. UNTA leaders found that workers' rights were sometimes given a lower priority than workers' obligations, and at times industrial workers found themselves at odds with both the government and their own union leadership. These tensions were exacerbated by the demands of militant workers who favored more sweeping nationalization programs than those undertaken by the government; some workers opposed any compensation of foreign owners.
During the early 1980s, Cuban advisers were assigned to bring industrial workers into the MPLA-PT. With their Angolan counterparts in the UNTA, Cuban shop stewards and union officials undertook educational programs in technical and management training, labor discipline and productivity, and socialist economics. Their overall goal was to impart a sense of worker participation in the management of the state economy--a difficult task in an environment characterized by warfare and economic crisis. By late 1988, the Cubans had achieved mixed success. Some of the UNTA's 600,000 members looked forward to the prosperity they hoped to achieve through MPLA-PT policies; many others felt their links to the government did little to improve their standard of living, and they were relatively uncommitted to the construction of a socialist state. UNTA officers did not aggressively represent worker interests when they conflicted with those of the party, and the fear of labor unrest became part of Angola's political context.
Data as of February 1989