Africa and Middle East: Unions sustain organising work in Chinese MNCs

BWI's trade union affiliates in Africa and Middle East came together two weeks ago to discuss ways to sustain their organising initiatives in Chinese multinational companies (MNCs). 

In a two-day Chinese MNCs Network Meeting on 3-4 November, trade unionists shared with one another the latest trends and developments in the MNCs owned and operated by Chinese entities. They also devoted special attention to a research undetaken by Professor Trywell Kalusopa on collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) signed by unions with Chinese MNCs and their impact on workers’ rights and welfare. 

BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng reminded the participants of the importance of organising workers employed in Chinese MNCs operating in the region. She cited a resolution passed during BWI’s 4th Regional Conference held on 30-31 August 2021 calling for the innovative organising of the said companies, which she explained is in line with BWI’s 7 convergences adopted at its last Congress in Durban.

It was notably mentioned that the Network was able to help 22 unions from 17 countries organise 81,657 workers employed in 217 companies. It also helped in sealing 60 CBAs. In Africa, unions recruited new members from big Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as the Sino Hydro Corporation, China Road and Bridge Corporation, China Harbour and Engineering Corporation.

Katherine Meissner, FES TUCC Director for Sub Saharan Africa, congratulated BWI’s affiliates on its organising achievements, especially the signing of new CBAs which she said proved crucial in the time of COVID-19. She expressed her continuing support to the Network and its research needs.  

The meeting, which was attended by 52 participants from 15 countries, also adopted a regional action plan for 2022 that includes capacity-building programs focused on International Financial Institutions (IFIs), a plan to develop a document on key organisational rights to be demanded from Chinese MNCs , a regional framework agreement with Sino Hydro and a manual on the multilateral development banks’ (MDBs) anti-corruption standards.