Chinese Jinshan Construction gained the type of headlines it probably wished to avoid with a report from RFE/RL’s Balkan Service noting “backlash” from Serbian unions and labor organizations over the company’s safety procedures—which allegedly include forcing workers to line up and take a “safety oath” a la the army.
Jinshan Construction runs a large copper mine near Majdanpek, but noteworthy is that it responded to such backlash by stating that the “safety oath” only applied to Chinese workers.
That said, the story and the reaction of unions has some questioning whether the alleged army-like discipline does not violate Serbian labour laws that apply to a “hostile working environment.” According to RFE/RL, Serbia’s Labor Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Ministry has since begun inspections at the company.
The negative publicity is likely unwanted by the current government, considering its openness to Chinese mining investment. In fact, only a week ago the government proudly announced a coming total of up to USD 3.8 bln of investment in Serbia through mining group Zijin Mining, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government.
Interesting is that RFE/RL reported that an Independent Labor Union of the Majdanpek Copper Mine official stated that a document outlining similar procedures was considered by Zijin, but that Zijin decided not to apply said rules as the labor force was not a “police nor a military formation.”
A Majdanpek Copper Mine photo from 2015 by Boris P, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.