The South African Multinational Corporations in Africa: Bargaining with Multinationals booklet will assist union negotiators to use company information in their bargaining with the management. Authored by Marie Daniel (pictured), this booklet is made possible through the support Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub-Sahara Africa (FES TUCC). In this interview, Marie speaks about the research in the booklet and how trade unions can use it to bargain with companies to address the challenges in the future of work.
Multinational companies often argue that they create jobs and boost local economies. But your research points to evidence that in Africa multinationals often lower costs by cutting what they spend on labour. How do you explain this?
What kind of information did you collect through your research on multinationals in Africa, and how can it be used?
In the 2016 report, you present evidence of a huge difference in the remuneration for different categories of employees in the retail sector, with entry-level workers earning almost 2,000 times less than executive officers. What challenges have prevented the bargaining process from addressing this gap?
I think one of the contributing factors is that the public and workers can easily be misled regarding the true remuneration packages of executives in a company. The official salary only covers part of a senior executive’s overall remuneration package. It does not include additional benefits such as short-term incentives or long-term incentives, which are forms of bonus. The Shoprite CEO, for example, received a cash bonus of 50 million rand (US$4 million) one year. In such cases, negotiators can use the real, total package awarded to top executives to boost their position, and question any reluctance by management to award the requested pay rises to the lower-level workers.