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Strengthen SOE employees' unions
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Employees' representative unions in State-owned enterprises (SOE) must be strengthened to prevent their rights from being violated, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpt:

All China Federation of Trade Unions recently issued a directive, stressing the importance of protecting employees' rights to know, participate, supervise and make decisions.

SOEs have to be reformed. But the problem is the reform of SOEs is different from that of private enterprises. Two questions are important in SOEs' reform: Who should have the right to dispose of the assets that, by law, belong to all the people, and how to deal with the existing workforce.

Normally, an SOE's assets are disposed of by its management rather than "the people" as a whole. But some people say managements, appointed directly by superior government regulators, cannot represent the interests of an SOE's entire workforce. Experience shows that many an SOE's reform has gone against the interests of the employees, resulting in mass layoffs, and devaluation and/or drainage of its assets.

An SOE's reform should be carried out prudently, with the interests of employees getting top priority.

We have to understand that employees are opposed not to any type of reform but to behind-the-scene manipulations and the violation of employees' rights.

To prevent malpractices, the entire reform plan should be given to the employees' unions for discussion, for that would accord them the right to decide on major issues concerning the employees. If this is not done, the reform should be deemed illegal.

In reality, employees' unions exist only in name in most of the SOEs. Hence, we should first awaken the sleeping employee unions, and make them think freely so that they represent the interests of all the employees.

(China Daily August 21, 2009)

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