World / China-Africa

Experts urge companies in Africa to improve CSR

By He Dan ( Updated: 2014-05-19 14:47

Given China's expanded investment and economic activities in Africa, Chinese companies in the continent should improve their corporate social responsibility to realize sustainable development, trade union officials and experts urge.

To protect workers' rights is the mutual interest of the All China Federation of Trade Unions and its counterparts in Africa, Jiang Guangping, vice-president of the ACFTU, said in his keynote speech at the Sino-Africa Trade Union High-level Seminar in Beijing on Thursday and Friday. The seminar focused on labor relations and the role of trade unions in multinational corporations.

Jiang urged trade unions from Africa to promote China's economic ties with the continent to bring more benefits for workers.

More than 30 representatives of trade unions from nine African countries including Kenya and officials from the International Labor Organization, who are on a weeklong visit to China, attended the seminar. They exchanged ideas with representatives from Chinese companies including Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's second-largest telecom equipment maker.

Mohammed Mwamadzingo, senior economist and desk officer for Africa, ILO Bureau for Workers Activities, said "China's neo-colonialism in Africa" is a false accusation, and inconsistent with Chinese tradition and culture. "Such an accusation does not reflect the reality of friendly, equal-footed and mutually beneficial cooperation," he said.

"African leaders consider their engagement with China as a viable alternative to the neo-colonial relations they have had with the West in the past 50 years," he added.

Currently, about 1,600 Chinese companies do business in Africa, hiring more than 350,000 local employees, Xinhua reported on Saturday.

Liu Hansong, deputy director of the international department of the China Enterprise Confederation and the China Enterprise Directors Association, said Chinese companies should strictly abide by local labor laws and regulations in African countries in which they do business in order to hold themselves accountable.

Xing Aifen, a law professor from the Beijing Normal University, urged Chinese companies in Africa to hire more local employees and provide training programs to improve African employees' skills.

She also encouraged Chinese companies to pay more attention to integrating with local communities by participating in charitable activities, environmental protection and other corporate social responsibility practices.

Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang concluded a four-nation trip to Africa in which he strengthened Sino-African cooperation in areas including economics, poverty reduction and wildlife protection.

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