A senior All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) official said
in yesterday's People's Daily that workers in less than
one in three foreign-invested ventures are unionized.
"Some enterprises, Wal-Mart being representative, turn a blind
eye to China's Trade Union Law and set very negative examples for
the country's unionizing effort," said Guo Wencai, ACFTU
organization department director.
Under pressure from the ACFTU, Wal-Mart Stores, the world's
biggest retailer infamous for blocking the establishment of unions
worldwide, announced last November 23 that it would permit union
branches in its Chinese stores if employees requested it.
The ACFTU responded two days later, saying that it was ready to
assist the establishment of unions for Wal-Mart employees, of whom
there are around 20,000 in more than 40 outlets in 18 Chinese
There have been no reports of any unions in Wal-Mart branches
being set up since then.
Guo said the majority of the foreign enterprises respect the
country's labor laws and support employees joining trade unions.
However, employees at only about 160,000 of the 480,000 foreign
firms in China have so far been unionized.
The ACFTU official urged workers in foreign companies to set up
unions to harmonize labor relationships, adding, "After being
unionized, better-protected employees will be motivated to work for
healthy business development."
Guo accused some local governments of acting as "protection
umbrellas" for foreign enterprises that discourage workers from
unionizing, with some local officials more interested in how much
capital can be attracted from overseas.
The ACFTU plans to encourage unionization by raising awareness
of its benefits amongst workers. Yang Honglin, another ACFTU
official, said trade unions should assume responsibility for
speaking out on behalf of workers and seek the best solutions to
(China Daily April 29, 2005)