South African report highlights Chinese labor abuses in the Sub-Sahara

A new report by Johannesburg-based South Africa Resource Watch (SARW) claims that Chinese companies have engaged in widespread labor abuses in sub-Saharan Africa and subjected local employees in the mining industry to harsh and unfair working conditions.

The report, which investigates Chinese labor practices in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, states that small PRC mining companies are the chief culprits with respects to labor abuses and infractions.

According to the report Chinese mining companies have used contract labor in violation of Zimbabwe's Labour Relations Act, which has become a key "bone of contention" for local trade unions, while many PRC firms still fail to observe minimum wage requirements.

The report further claims that most Chinese mining firms exceed statutory working hours of eight hours a day, requiring employees to work 12 to 18 hours, and that at the Makwiro platinum concessions workers do not receive overtime for 12 hours on the job.

In Zambia the report asserts that huge pay disparities exist between Chinese and local employees, with Chinese staff members awarded three times the remuneration given to a Zambian for the same amount of work.

Despite highlighting a litany of labor abuses by Chinese firms in several countries, the report argues that a "win-win partnership" between the African continent and the Middle Kingdom is still possible, and that companies such as Sino Steel are making signal efforts to improve local working conditions.