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China in Africa: The Real Story

Nigerian workers protest conditions at Chinese construction projects

Deborah Brautigam

Breaking news: Nigerian workers protest employment conditions at CCECC Lagos-Badagry highway construction site. As reported by Business Day, Nigerian workers complained:
 ``The management does not have any medical facility for the workers. Our salaries are poor and there is no increment.

``The suffering is too much. I cannot pay the school fees of my children,’’ Johnson said.

Mr Jack Aguto, who has worked with the company for six years, said that he was hired as an electrical engineer but had been working in other areas with no additional wage.

``It is sad that the money CCECC pays as salary is meagre. We need a basic salary. We work for seven days in a week and earn peanuts,’’ Aguto said.

A carpenter, Mr Henry Okoye, told NAN that he was currently earning about N17, 000 monthly as a junior worker, after working for three years as a casual.

``We work every day -- both on public holidays and weekends -- with no allowances. I was hired as a carpenter, but I am forced to work as a gardener and bricklayer on the same pay,’’ Okoye said.
This is a huge cultural conflict. Aside from the long hours, some of this reflects Chinese cultural assumptions about flexibility: work is work, and if the need is to develop the garden or lay bricks, and there isn't a need for carpentry, then carpenters should lay bricks. I've seen this with Chinese supervisors, who appear to be flexible enough to pitch in and move wheelbarrows if one needs to be moved. I have a photo from a factory visit in Nigeria of the Chinese translator, sweating as he picked up and moved big boxes full of brake pads.

a h/t to Ndubisi Obiorah