Ulrikke Wethal: Workplace regimes in Sino-Mozambican construction projects: resentment and tension in a divided workplace

In Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 2017.


Ulrikke Wethal


Based on a qualitative study of Chinese-led construction projects in Mozambique, this article explores how Chinese engagement in the construction sector affects workplace regimes. The study addresses the following set of questions: What characterises these workplace regimes, and why do the workplace regimes give rise to resentment and tension amongst Mozambican workers? Furthermore, how is labour agency constrained or enabled within these workplace regimes? The data reveals that Chinese companies in Mozambique are granted great freedom to develop workplace regimes as they see fit, characterised by functional flexibility, low pay and few benefits. Furthermore, the creation of a divided workplace, with separate workplace regimes for Chinese and Mozambican workers, exacerbates resentment amongst Mozambican workers. The Mozambican workers employ multiple strategies to express their discontent, but labour agency is constrained by weak national institutional support, and lack of alternative employment opportunities in the local labour market.

Published June 7, 2017 11:04 AM - Last modified June 7, 2017 11:07 AM