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McDonald's China to Allow Trade Unions
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McDonald's China, embroiled in a recent crisis after being accused of under-paying its part-time staff, has vowed to set up trade union branches across its 40 outlets in Zhejiang Province this year, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) said on Monday.

An ACFTU spokesman attributed the statement to Zong Hao, central region human resources director with McDonald's China, as he visited the Zhejiang Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU). McDonald's China were unable to confirm the statement, but promised an official comment later.

Chen Dingxin, ZFTU vice chairman, praised the move, saying it would help rebuild the fast food giant's tarnished image, and improve labor relations while allowing McDonald's to meet its social obligations. He added that McDonald's China should press ahead with such moves following national trade union regulations.

Earlier this month, Kong Xianghong, vice chairman of the Guangdong Trade Unions Federation, had already made a similar province to set up trade union branches across Guangdong Province by July, a claim which later went unconfirmed by McDonald's China.

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut were all indicted for under-paying part-time employees in Guangzhou, allocating them just four yuan (52 US cents) per hour, or 40 percent less than the city's statutory minimum wage of 7.5 yuan.

The labor authority in Guangdong further confirmed that the same restaurants had breached employment laws by failing to provide labor contracts to their employees and for overworking them with little or no remuneration.

China's trade union law, in line with international standards, allows all workers whose major source of income is their salary to form and take active part in trade unions.

Wal-Mart stands as an example of the inexorable march of trade unions, since after first stone-walling and balking at creating a trade union in its Chinese branches, launched its first one in Shanghai in August last year.

Following this precedent, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pepsi and French bank BNP have all set up their own trade unions in the country.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2007)

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