BWI Africa Regional Network on Chinese MNCs: Sharing experience and finding new ways to organize and bargain

 

Johannesburg in South Africa has hosted the BWI Africa Network on Chinese MNCs from August 10 to 12, 2016. The network gathered 32 BWI Africa affiliates leaders from 15 countries, research institutes and solidarity support partner, the FES Trade Union Competence Centre (TUCC) for Sub sahara Africa to evaluate the level of implementation of BWI global action plan on Chine MNCs and to develop a regional action plan for 2017 and beyond. 

At the last Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in December 2015 in Johannesburg, China has committed 60 Billion US Dollars of funding support to Africa. China is now Africa's largest trading partner as trade value rose from about US$10 billion in 2000 to more than US$198 billion in 2012 and it was projected to have reached US$220 billion in 2015. 

While both sides agreed to upgrade the new type of strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership and promote a comprehensive upgrading of the China-Africa friendly and mutual beneficial cooperation; the absence of trade union voices in these agreements are a major concern. 

According to Bastian Schulz, the Director for FES TUCC for Sub Sahara Africa, BWI affiliates in Africa have positively impressed by the achievements in dealing with Chinese MNCs. A part from many CBAs signed, unions have been able to engage many Chinese MNCs in Social dialogue and right to organize. FES through theTrade Union Competence Centre for Sub sahara Africa is supporting good initiatives like this success and providing capacity to trade union activists to defend and protect workers’ rights. 

The BWI Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng has on BWI of BWI General Secretary Ambet extended greeting to FES for the good partnership and the support around issues concerning workers’ rights, Decent work and democracy in Africa and Middle East. She invited affiliates to focus on the achievement of BWI global strategy on chinese MNCs as the region will held in September its third regional conferencee in Maputo Mozambique. 

The BWI is expecting from this workshop that its affiliates strategised on engaging the governments and Chinese MNCs for the two to take decent work and workers’ rights as a central element of its decisions and agreements. BWI asserts that there should be no “exploitation of workers for development”. 

Considering the difficulties unions faced in organising and recruiting in Chinese Companies, BWI affiliates will be expected to provide information on the existing Chinese companies involved in their respective sectors and countries, level of engagement they have achieved, strategies used as part of the work on strengthening organising around Chinese companies. Information on number of workers, category of workers as well as nature of agreements signed will be profiled and shared during the Network Meeting. A booklet based on research report on Chinese MNCs and case study on chinese Companies labour practices in the Africa Construction sector has also been share and used as case studies.