Labour Relations and the Role of Trade Unions in Multinational Corporations were the theme of the inaugural High-Level Sino-African Trade Union Seminar, held in Beijing on 15 and 16 May 2014. More than 70 participants attended the seminar, including 26 top trade union leaders from nine African countries (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe), representatives of Chinese enterprises (China Non-ferrous Metal Mining Group Co. Ltd, NFC Africa Mining plc, China State Construction ENGRG Corp. Ltd, China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Ltd, Geely Auto Company, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, and Sanyi Heavy Industry Group) and relevant government departments (International Department, Central Committee of the CPC, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), as well as Chinese trade unionists at various levels, the Chinese Enterprise Confederation, ILO experts and academics.
The seminar aimed to create an inclusive platform where African trade unions, Chinese enterprises and Chinese trade unions as well as other stakeholders can build a face-to-face dialogue channel, voice the interests and concerns of each side, express views and perspectives, share requests and doubts, and develop a basis for building mutual trust. More importantly, with this seminar as a trial effort, the ACFTU seeks to develop a mechanism to deepen traditional friendship and enrich existing cooperation between Chinese and African trade unions into feasible and practical cooperation which will bring tangible benefits for both Chinese and African workers.
It is worth noting that at country level, since 2009, China has been Africa’s biggest trading partner for five consecutive years. Sino-African trade volume totalled US$ 210.2 billion in 2013. And at the trade union level, the ACFTU allocated US$ 1 million to the OATUU/ACFTU African workers’ education programme under the South-South Cooperation mechanism. ACFTU ties with African trade unions will only be further strengthened in the future.