Cosatu wants illegal Chinese workers deported
Johannesburg - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday demanded an investigation and an immediate deportation of Chinese nationals who are allegedly working illegally in South Africa.
This comes after a Cosatu investigation uncovered that a Chinese State company, CBMI Construction, was allegedly allowed to bring in about 242 workers to South Africa to work on a construction project.
CBMI Construction was awarded a tender to do a R1.2 billion project at cement supplier PPC's Slurry plant in North West in 2015.
Cosatu alleges the workers had been working in South Africa since October 2015 and were set to continue on the project until 2018.
"The federation is calling on the Department of Labour to investigate this matter and take steps to correct this travesty," Cosatu said in a statement on Thursday.
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"We find this totally unacceptable that for a country with over 9.2 million unemployed people, some companies are allowed to bring cheap labour from as far as Asia to work in this country. We also want to see the South African companies that have allowed this to happen to be held accountable."
Speaking on the phone to African News Agency (ANA), Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the union federation had held a trilateral meeting with unions from Ghana and Nigeria where it established the company's alleged bad workers' track record.
"This is not xenophobia because we understand the situation of economic refugees. We just want Chinese nationals to be properly documented, organised and well remunerated," Pamla said.
"So we will be asking questions from the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Labour because Chinese companies are notorious for transgressing to labour laws."
Pamla said it was time government agencies conduct forensic investigations into the dealings of all Chinese companies in South Africa because they suspected that CBMI Construction was not acting alone. "This is going to create more unemployment and will result in more unemployed people depending on government for their livelihood, while the Chinese are repatriating their wages out of the country, limiting the demand in the economy," Cosatu said.
"Cosatu is worried that Chinese companies are allowed to get away with serious labour law violations in this country and our government is doing very little to protect the interests of workers and the local people in general."
Cosatu challenged government to act decisively to confront the Chinese companies and close the legal loopholes that might be exploited.
Mokgadi Pela, the Department of Labour's acting spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY