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Trade Unions Recommended for Private and Foreign Firms
Private and foreign enterprises in China have been called on to set up trade unions in order to effectively protect the legal rights of their employees.

The call came from top officials with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) yesterday in Beijing. The federation's ultimate goal is to establish trade unions in every workplace.

According to federation sources, many newly established private and foreign enterprises have not established trade unions within their organizations. Among China's 250 million workers, only about 100 million are union members and the majority of them work in State-owned enterprises.

The legal rights of workers and employees have been more solidly protected since the amendment to the Law of the People's Republic of China on Trade Unions, which took effect on October 28 last year, said top Chinese unionist Wei Jianxing.

Wei, who is chairman of the ACFTU, said the law accentuates the outstanding function of trade unions in protecting employees' rights.

"The second article of the law clearly stipulates that all the unions, in the interest of their members, are authorized to protect workers' legal rights," Wei said at yesterday's ACFTU conference marking the first anniversary of the revised law.

The amendment, approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, states that all workers and employees are authorized to join trade unions. And organizations or individuals are prohibited from interfering with workers who wish to join a trade union.

ACFTU vice-chairman Zhang Junjiu said that the drop in the number of trade unions across the nation and rampant infringement on workers' legal rights were motivating factors behind last year's amendment.

Huang Shuhe, vice-minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, said the related authorities and trade unions should pay more attention to the situation of workers in non-State-owned enterprises. "Comparatively, the working conditions and social security are not ideal in some private and township enterprises as well as some joint ventures."

(China Daily October 29, 2002)

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