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Foundry Daily News

24. August 2007

IMF (International Metalworkers Federation) holds meeting on Chinese trade and investment in Africa

Affiliates discuss cross-sector and cross-regional case studies and strategies.

SOUTH AFRICA: The International Metalworkers' Federation hosted a regional workshop in South Africa in June to bring together African affiliates, trade experts and IMF secretariat and regional staff to discuss the impact of Chinese trade and investment in southern Africa.

The workshop's aim: to provide metalworker unions, especially those in SADC countries, with an opportunity to learn from experts about the reality of China's expansion, particularly, though not exclusively, in Africa; compare trade union experiences in different regions; and collect information on and analyse the fast growing Chinese presence in SADC countries with attention to the repercussions on the regional integration process and the impact of Chinese investments on employment, workers' rights and development.

The meeting served as an opportunity for trade union leaders in the region to share their experiences and better understand an increasingly complex situation of foreign investments and trade that have direct repercussions on the working and living conditions of their members.

Major points of discussion included:

  • Violations of fundamental democratic rights - human, workers', and trade union rights in China and by Chinese investors abroad.

  • Cross-sector and cross-regional strategies and case studies.
  • Precarisation of employment conditions. Are Chinese employers accelerating this problem?

Delegates put forth the recommendation that affiliates must commit to organizing all kinds of casual workers for the survival of the trade union movement, recognizing that the increasing phenomenon of casualisation of work will erode their membership unless they are able to reach out to these workers.

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