By Kenneth Matimaire
THE Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) is finalising its second survey to assess Chinese labour practices in eight African countries, The Financial Gazette can report.
The survey follows up on a similar study that was conducted in 2009, which featured 10 African countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The study focused on key investment clusters that ranged from mining, petroleum, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, telecommunications, textiles, transport and construction among others.
It examined the nature of investment, the sectors in which the companies operated, the economic impact of the investments as well as labour relations and working conditions.
The research found that there were unfair and gross labour practices by Chinese investors against African employees.
The follow up study, which commenced in mid 2017, seeks to re-assess whether the situation has improved or deteriorated.
The survey slightly departs from the first report as it downsized the number of States under review from 10 to eight. Countries that have been excluded are South Africa and Namibia.
It further limits its scope of study to the construction sector, a development attributed to limited resources.
LEDRIZ senior researcher, Naomi Chakanya indicated that the study was now in its final stages and due to be published in April.
LEDRIZ is the research institute of the country’s main trade union body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
“The 2017 study that we are undertaking departs a little bit from the first study we did in 2009 in that we have lesser countries for a start. The first study had 10 countries, but this other one has eight countries. It also has to do with the resources that were available to undertake it. We had less resources so we have less countries. And the second departure is that the first publication looked at all sectors in which Chinese investments were in, but this second one for 2017 is more structured in the sense that it’s looking at one sector, which is construction, in the eight countries in Africa,” Chakanya told The Financial Gazette on the sidelines of a workshop in Kadoma.
Chakanya said they were working with Global Union Federation, which organised workers globally in the construction sector, the International Labour Organisation and trade unions.
She added that the survey was now undergoing editorial process before it is published.
“I think the editorial process is almost over now and we are expecting that in the next few months, two months or so, the research publication will be out,” she said.
Chakanya highlighted that several issues raised in the previous report were also still featuring prominently in the current research.
“Basically what is coming out is the issues that we have been struggling with since 2009. The issue of lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of trade unionism by the Chinese is still an issue that is coming up very prominently in the research. One of the strategies then will be how to deal with Chinese employers. Also the issue on working conditions, the general working conditions, leaving conditions because some of these companies are situated away from towns, and employers will have to leave away from their families where the employers have to provide accommodation and social amenities. So we are finding that in most cases the social amenities are very poor, the houses are very poor compared to those used by the Chinese,” she said.