02/25/2021, 13.39
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Venezuela embraces 'Made in China' while its workers are exploited by Chinese companies

by Silvina Premat

Chinese investments bring no benefits. Chinese companies violate local laws. Chinese workers get paid more than US$ 2,000 dollars while Venezuelans get US$ 350. The same situation is found in other parts of Latin America. Complaints are made against Chinese mining and oil companies.

Buenos Aires (AsiaNews) – A report by the China Latin American Research Center (Centro de Investigaciones China y Latinoamérica), of the Andrés Bello Foundation (Fundación Andrés Bello), shows that at least four Chinese companies have violated Venezuela's labour law. Despite the significant role played by companies from the Asian country over the past twenty years, “there was no significant gain in terms of labour or economic benefits for any of the parties”.

The study is based on interviews with Venezuelan workers employed by four Chinese companies involved in major projects in Venezuela, namely the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), ZTE Corporation, Sinohydro and Gezhouba Group Corporation.

The main violations of Venezuelan labour law by Chinese companies are irregular recruitment practices such as outsourcing to third parties, which is banned by Venezuelan law; lack of trade union protections; and wage inequality and treatment between Venezuelan and foreign workers.

The study shows that the percentage of foreign workers employed by these companies tend to exceed the 10 per cent maximum established by law. In the case of the construction of the Santa Lucia-Kempis motorway, a project that cost US million, Venezuelans were 40 of the staff; the rest were Brazilians (40 per cent) Chinese (20 per cent). Foreigners held the positions of greatest responsibility and in some cases, the same post was filled by two people, a Chinese coordinator and a Brazilian coordinator.

Despite the training and background of Venezuelan professionals, they were paid less than their Chinese colleagues. While the latter earned salaries of more than US$ 2,000, Venezuelans were paid less than US$ 350.

“The conditions offered by Venezuela in the agreements reached opened the door to the investment and installation of Chinese companies in the country. As in several Latin American countries, these conditions are not beneficial to recipient countries, not the least because foreign labour is privileged at middle and higher levels, as well as other elements,” said Angeyeimar Gil Carrillo, author of the research published by the Andrés Bello Foundation.

Gil Carrillo further notes that the Collective on Chinese Financing and Investment, Human Rights and Environment (Colectivo sobre Financiamiento e Inversiones Chinas, Derechos Humanos y Ambiente, CICDHA) has reported dozen allegations of labour violations in Latin America by Chinese mining, hydroelectric and oil companies.

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