Addis Ababa—Labour disputes in construction sector have assumed new proportions as workers in several construction companies went on strike, one after another, in recent months. The latest such incidents include a strike by workers at the Addis Ababa Ring Road Project, which is being undertaken by a Chinese construction firm.
This was followed by a similar strike by employees of the MIDROC Construction. And now activities at the Gelgel Ghibe Hydro-Electric Power Project have been halted as the project workers have gone on strike.
The strikers and their labour unions cite many reasons for their decisions. Chief among the reasons are maltreatment of employees by the management, denial of right to association, inappropriate expulsion of trade union leaders by the management of the firms, and failure on the part of the companies to provide employees with some necessary services. The construction companies involved have dismissed most of the allegations as baseless.
Ethiopia has a most comprehensive law that governs labour relations. The law, among others, underscores that worker-employer relations are governed by the basic principles of rights and obligations. Adherence to these principles is a prerequisite for the prevalence of industrial peace, and for workers and the management to do their share in the spirit of peace and harmony.
Labour disputes are features that characterize any industrial sector. The overriding issue is how these disputes are addressed and resolved. This will be a very important consideration for any potential investor who wants to invest in Ethiopia. There is a need for a quick and expeditious settlement of these disputes.