Category Archives: Publications

Trade Union Responses and Strategies to Climate Change in Africa.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – Africa Region with the support of the FriedrichEbert-Stiftung (FES), Trade Union Competence Centre, engaged the African Labour Research Network (ALRN) to undertake research on Trade Unions Responses to Climate Change in Africa. The development objective of the whole project was to contribute towards strengthening the capacity of African trade unions to deal with immediate challenges of climate change. It is hoped that in this way, trade unions would be able to influence national policies on climate change and safeguard the interests of workers in Africa.

Developing a trade union response to South African Multinational Corporations in Africa: Studies and Trends.

This publication brings together research reports provided by the Labour Research Service (LRS) in Cape Town with the assistance of the Trade Union Competence Centre (TUCC) of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Johannesburg to support the work of Global Union Federations (GUFs) around the practices and policies of South African multinational companies with operations in various parts of Africa. The research was conducted to provide strategic information to GUFs in their efforts to promote increased trade union representation of workers within the companies, to promote compliance by the companies with decent work and environmental standards and to improve the social dialogue situation. The reports provide valuable information and trends regarding the policies and practices of the companies, as well as the situation of trade unions representing workers within these companies. This information was critical in setting up trade union networks, which are the institutionalised mechanisms of co-operation among worker representatives from operations of a company in different countries.

Foreign Direct Investment in Extractive Industries in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Real Hope or a Mirage?

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the Extractive Industries are playing more and more an important role for the economic environment of the African continent. Billions of US Dollars are annually invested in the different African countries to extract minerals like gold, platinum, copper, iron, coal etc. which are of immense importance for the industrial development of emerging markets like China, India and Brazil and the developed world in Europe, the US/Canada, Australia and Japan. For example China has become the third largest investor in Zambia. The Question of FDI particularly in the Extractive Industry sparks a greater flurry of questions.

Walmart into Africa.

As Massmart/Walmart sets up to drive more deeply into Africa, it is essential that labour rights, good corporate governance and social responsibility move with it. Unions that have members working in Massmart/Walmart have joined together as affiliates of UNI Global Union to form an alliance to engage with the company towards this end. At the launch meeting of the UNI Africa Walmart Union Alliance in June 2012 unions organising in Massmart/Walmart operations across Africa set themselves the challenge of demanding that Massmart/Walmart sign a Global Framework Agreement with UNI Global Union which guarantees all Massmart/Walmart workers the right to organise for a better life (See Appendix 13). The process of a campaign for a Global Framework Agreement is key in signalling to Massmart/Walmart that they are no longer going to simply be able to bypass South African labour laws but that all workers in Africa are working towards the goal of decent work.

Pick n Pay: On your side?

UNI Global Union leads and supports this Alliance to achieve its goal of decent work and a decent life for all. The Labour Research Service conducted research with the Pick n Pay Alliance. This report critically examines Pick n Pay, identifying challenges for unions in the Alliance to pursue with the company.

South African MNCS in Africa – Trends in 2010 / 2011.

As companies have stretched their operations and supply chains across the globe, so international trade law
has assisted them in accessing new markets and new resources. However, this global economy, while granting
Multinational Corporations (MNCs) new freedoms and opportunities, has not been accompanied by
globalisation of social rights, labour rights and ultimately human rights to the workers within those companies.
Companies have spread in search of new profit opportunities which have often meant seeking out areas of the
globe where resources, including human resources, can be had very cheaply and without restriction. The
situation is bad for both workers in the home countries of these companies, as jobs flow outwards to where
the work can be done more cheaply, and workers in the new host countries, where they have to work without
the protections and benefits afforded those in the country of origin.
The focus of the research and reporting here is aimed at building capacity among unions at national, regional
and global levels to address this imbalance of power for the benefit of workers wherever they may be.

Global Framework Agreements for Africa

As a tool developed by Global Union Federations (GUFs) to bring a social dimension to economic globalization there is now a good deal of discussion on the role of Global Framework Agreements4 (GFAs) and their efficacy in serving this purpose. With the first GFA signed as recently as 1989, it is too early to decide whether GFAs are a useful tool in the struggle for global solidarity or not. It is though time to examine some of their limitations and to look at processes which could make them more useful. The current discussions however, make little reference to the issues and position of African workers and African trade unions in this regard and do not include the voices of these organisations and workers. This project is therefore focused on GFAs in Africa as a contribution to the global discussion.