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McDonald's Workers Set Up Trade Union Organization in NE China
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Employees of a McDonald's outlet convened a trade union conference in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, Friday morning, forming the first union branch in the fast-food giant's stores in northeast China.


Yang Saidan, 26, deputy manager assistant of the Pengli outlet adjacent to a commercial street in downtown Shenyang was elected chairwoman of the trade union committee during the low-key meeting.


"It is a good start for the company. I'll try my best to protect workers' rights and interests according to law," said Yang, who has been working in the outlet for six years.


So far, 13 out of the 41 employees have joined the union organization.


Guo Jing, a college student who works part-time in the outlet, said she was happy to be a member of the union.


"I'm considering to work here after my graduation," said Guo.


After about a month's negotiation with local trade union authorities, McDonald's agreed to have trade union organization in each of its 16 outlets in the city, according to Li Jinsheng, director of the organizing committee with Shenyang Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU).


The remaining 15 outlets are expected to set up trade unions by early July, according to Li.


Union branches have been founded in McDonald's stores in Guangdong Province. More are expected to be set up in Zhejiang Province by the end of the year.


More than 98 percent of Shenyang's foreign-invested companies have established trade union organizations so far, statistics from SFTU show.


The move will promote harmonious labor relations and sound business growth for the company, said Ju Xiuli, chairman of SFTU.


Each company with more than 25 employees must have individual trade union organization, according to China's trade union law.


Some of KFC's outlets in the city's Dadong District are expected to set up trade unions in the near future, according to Li.


The fast-food giants have been criticized for underpaying their part-time employees in Guangzhou by up to 40 percent below the local legal minimum wage of nearly US$1 an hour.


The All-China Federation of Trade Unions have been trying to lobby foreign companies to allow the establishment of union branches in their China operations in an effort to prevent confrontations in worker-management.


Wal-Mart, which had refused to establish a trade union in its Chinese branches, founded its first trade union in Shanghai in August last year.


Apart from Wal-Mart, KFC, McDonald's, Pepsi and French bank BNP have all founded trade unions in China.


(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2007)

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