Chinese multinationals expecting to set shop in Kenya have been tipped to join local employers associations and carefully learn the labour relations environment in the country. This is the message that was delivered by Industrial Relations experts from FKE who participated in an exchange programme with employer organizations from East Africa, China and Norway held in Beijing and Nanjing cities of the People’s Republic of China.
During the visit FKE presented the labour relations challenges faced by Chinese owned companies operating in Kenya at a workshop organized by China Enterprise Confederation in Nanjing investors intending to come to Kenya. The presentation gave tips on how to wade through the complex labour environment in Kenya and also the language and cultural challenges faced by Chinese investors in Kenya.
The workshop also included presentations from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), China Enterprise Confederation (CEC) and the Association of Tanzania Employers. These organizations are implementing a ‘doing responsible business in East Africa’ project that seeks to integrate Chinese investors into the local labour and business culture of East African countries. The project is funded by the NHO.
The delegation also held symposiums with the tripartite partners and investors from Jiangsu province which has a higher number of investors in East Africa and also visited several employers interested in investing in East Africa.
Chinese investors operating in Kenya continue to face incidences of industrial unrest in their companies with many turning violent. A survey conducted by FKE in 2013 revealed several factors were the root cause of the problem including lack of information, language and cultural barriers. Through the project FKE has been able work together with the Chinese Embassy in Kenya and the Kenya Overseas Chinese Association to train Chinese companies on culture and business legislation. Over 500 participants from over 100 Chinese companies have benefited from this project which is still ongoing.