Africa labor abuse denied

08:54, November 19, 2010      

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Chinesecompanies Thursday denied allegations by a Zimbabwe trade union that said Chinese construction firms had violated labor laws there by underpaying and abusing local staff.

Ge Yizhong, deputy general manager of Zim Nantong Construction, which is currently operating in Zimbabwe, told the Global Times that local workers his company had hired were satisfied with their working conditions, including salaries.

"There is no ill-treatment of workers at my company. We have provided protective clothing to local workers and pay them according to the regulations set out by the local trade union," he said. "We have adjusted working hours to meet workers' demands. We have raised their pay twice since last year to counter the devaluation of the local currency."

Commenting on the allegations against Chinese companies, Ge said competition may prompt local unions to make such allegations, as more Chinese companies are doing business in Africa.

His defense comes after the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers' Union accused Chinese construction firms operating in Zimbabwe of underpaying workers, forcing them to work overtime without pay and not providing them with protective clothing and pension contributions, Newsday, a Zimbabwe-based newspaper, reported Wednesday.

"We would like to warn the Chinese contractors who are operating in Zimbabwe that if they do not follow the laid-down laws, the union is going to take strong action against them," the union's secretary-general, Muchapiwa Mazarura, was quoted by the paper as saying.

The construction union also said that the deals that the government entered into with the Chinese should not be compensated by Zimbabwe "donating human resources," adding that inhuman treatment of workers should come to an end, the report said.

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