16 January 2014

Mozambique: Chinese Company Given 15 Days to Correct Irregularities

Maputo — The Mozambican General Labour Inspectorate (IGT) has given the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) a 15 day deadline to correct all the anomalies detected during the strike of CRBC's Mozambican workforce earlier this month.

CRBC is the contractor building the Maputo Ring Road and the bridge over the Bay of Maputo linking the centre of the city to the neighbourhood of Katembe. The IGT, in a statement issued on Thursday, said it intervened “to restore labour order” by mediating between CRBC and its workers.

Among the workers' complaints were poor health and safety conditions - particularly the lack of protective equipment, and of medical care, and the failure of the company to take out insurance against work accidents.

CRBC had also not complied with its legal duty to enroll its workers in the National Social Security Institute (INSS). The workers said that in some cases the company had not given them written contracts.

The strikers demanded a wage rise, and complained there was no clarity in how the basic wage was defined, and that some workers were being paid different amounts for the same work. They also said the company was not paying for overtime.

At the end of the negotiations, the company recognised the need to improve the capacity of its human resources department. It asked for advice from the IGT in the interpretation of Mozambican labour legislation and in enrolling the workforce in social security.

The company said that, in the event of accidents, it possesses a first aid kit and a worker trained to use it. Depending on how serious the accident is, it said it would also channel cases to the local health centre or to Maputo Central Hospital.

The company promised to obey the labour law, particularly in matters of wages and overtime pay.

The IGT was also critical of the workers, pointing out that the strike had been illegal, since it did not follow the procedures for strikes laid down in the labour law.

The IGT also suggested that the workers should unionise. Setting up a branch of the building workers' union, SINTICIM, would facilitate dialogue between the company and its workers.

The IGT statement said that both CRBC and the workers accepted this proposal.

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