McDonald's to allow trade unions in China

Updated: 2007-04-17 08:47

BEIJING -- McDonald's China has promised to establish trade union branches in its 40 restaurants in the eastern Zhejiang province this year, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) said Monday.

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A McDonald's spokeswoman in Beijing could not confirm the announcement, but said she would be seeking an official comment.

An ACFTU spokesman claimed that Zong Hao, central region human resources director with McDonald's China, made the remarks when visiting the Zhejiang Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU).

The move would boost the harmonious development of labor relations, upgrade the fast food giant's social image and help it fulfill its social responsibilities, said Chen Dingxin, ZFTU vice chairman.

Chen said he hoped McDonald's China would lose no time in fulfilling its promise in accordance with China's regulations on trade unions.

Earlier this month, Kong Xianghong, vice chairman of the Guangdong Trade Unions Federation, said McDonald's had promised to set up trade union branches in the southern Guangdong province before July this year.

But a spokesman for McDonald's in Guangdong refused to confirm Kong's claim and would not comment.

McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut have been criticized for paying their part-time employees in Guangzhou just four yuan (52 U.S. cents) per hour, up to 40 percent less than the city's statutory minimum wage of 7.5 yuan.

The labor authority in Guangdong later confirmed that certain restaurants belonging to the three international fast food chains had failed to sign labor contracts with employees and had overworked staff.

But a spokesman with the bureau did not comment on potential violations of the minimum wage regulations for students working part-time in McDonald's and KFC outlets.

All workers in enterprises, public institutions and government agencies who earn their living primarily from wages have the right to participate in and form trade union organizations, according to China's trade union law.

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.

Taking their lead from Wal-Mart, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's, Pepsi and French bank BNP have all set up trade unions in China.

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