Foreign firms called on to set up unions

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-14 06:26

The country's top trade union has called on all foreign companies operating in China to establish union branches.

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) urged foreign companies to follow the example of Wal-Mart, which has initiated a process of setting up unions in all its stores throughout the country, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

At a pace of close to one a day, the US retail giant has established union branches in all 62 of its China outlets, since the first one was formed at Wal-Mart's Jinjiang, Fujian Province, store on July 29.

The move was hailed as a "historic breakthrough" by the ACFTU, with Wal-Mart finally giving up its passive resistance to trade unions and agreeing to full co-operation in establishing branches in its stores.

ACFTU Vice-President Xu Deming called on unions to learn from the experience and set up more branches in foreign companies, especially those that rank in the top 500 list.

Notably, Xu slammed multinationals such as Foxconn, Kodak and Dell for their long time refusal to allow the establishment of trade unions, and called on unionists at all levels to make the establishment of branches at those companies bases in China "breakthrough goals."

Xu said resistance from foreign companies sprung from their lack of understanding of the status and function of Chinese trade unions, which they consider opponents.

"A trade union should unite and organize employees, boosting the development of a company, guarding employees' rights and maintaining harmony in the workplace," said Xu.

"Our experience with Wal-Mart shows that as long as foreign companies' apprehension can be dispelled, they will support our work and take a positive and active attitude."

Sixty per cent of the more than 150,000 foreign invested companies in the country are expected to have their own trade unions by the end of this year, Xu predicted.

(China Daily 10/14/2006 page2)