How Chinese Companies Deal with Labor Unions and Strikes in Kenya

How Chinese Companies Deal with Labor Unions and Strikes in Kenya

Mr. Eric, the labor officer on duty this week, provided explanation for comparatively more labor disputes associated with Chinese companies. Language is considered as the leading factor. “There are language barriers for Chinese enterprises, both with labor office and employees,” Mr. Eric said. The miscommunication contributes into information asymmetry. When employees comprehend the order incorrectly and do wrong things, they will receive dismissal from the employer. As friction between employees and employers accumulates, labor strikes occur. When labor union looks for negotiation with Chinese employers, they either refuse or can’t communicate, forcing Ministry of Labor to adopt legal procedures by taking them to the court.

Unfamiliarity to employment system increases labor disputes as well. When Chinese come, they are unfamiliar to the law and always attempt to deal with issues by simply finding a lawyer. The problem is that they cannot even find a right lawyer. “How can you expect a criminal lawyer to deal with labor issue?” Labor officer Mr. Antony said, “Only when labor strike starts did the lawyer concede that he didn’t know anything about labor law.”

When asked about cases of Chinese companies, a labor union officer complained, “Chinese companies are hard to reach because they always try to confuse the meeting by pretending that they don’t understand English.” When it is difficult to negotiate with the company, labor union initiates labor strike because it has much stronger influence than individual or small groups of workers. Therefore, in most cases, the frequency of labor strikes is positively correlated with the involvement of labor unions. –The ChinAfrica Project/

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