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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Collum saga, revisited

Since the shooting, Zambia’s labor commissioner, Noah Siasimuna, has been drawn into the dispute. Atop his desk is a thick folder about Collum Coal, but most of the paperwork is new. No signed labor agreement with the company was ever filed with his office as required by law, he said. Nor did the unions formally report any noncompliance.

Mr. Siasimuna, like the labor minister, Mr. Liato, cautioned against any conclusion that impugned Chinese businesses as worse than others. “We have bad employers that come from everywhere, including Zambia,” Mr. Liato said.

The unions, however, say Chinese owners are indeed their biggest headache. And, contradicting the government, the president of the Gemstone and Allied Workers Union of Zambia, Sifuniso Nyumbu, was able to produce contracts with Collum that had the signed and stamped approval of the commissioner’s office as well as letters from the Labor Ministry acknowledging union complaints about the company..
Excerpt from this recent New York Times piece on the Collum saga.  Taken at face value the above suggests that the Labour Commissioner would do anything, even lie, to protect Chinese owners. That is quite worrying considering that Chinese firms employ at-least 25,000 employees. Can those employees expect an impartial assessment from this Labour Commissioner? Not on this article!

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