Province sees more growth in unions

By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-12 06:58

GUANGZHOU: Following in the footsteps of McDonald's, all enterprises funded by the world's top 500 multinationals in Guangdong Province will have trade unions by the end of this year.

Zhou Sigen, an official with the provincial federation of trade unions, said the province aims to have more than 1 million trade union members this year, and more than 80 percent of the foreign-funded enterprises will set up trade unions, an increase of 20 percent over last year.

About 300 enterprises are expected to have trade unions.

"The federation has been promoting the advantages of trade unions among related firms and has made much headway in encouraging a great number of them to set up such organizations," Zhou said.

He said a growing number of firms have come to better understand that China's trade unions are different from those in Western countries.

"Some of them were initially reluctant either because they had been influenced by opposition to trade unions in their own countries or because they were unwilling to earmark funds for trade unions, equal to 2 per cent of a company's salaries budget," he said.

Zhou said the reason the federation has been focusing on foreign-funded enterprises, especially those funded by the world's top 500 multinationals, "is that they can play an exemplary role, and many more will follow suit".

He said the federation will make even greater efforts to promote trade unions in economic and technological development zones across the province.

The federation has also been targeting domestic private-sector enterprises. About 60 percent will have set up trade unions by the end of this year, he said.

Zhang Zhongmin, trade union chairman of VA TECH Elin Transformer Guangzhou Co, in which the German industrial giant Siemens has a major investment, said a union in a foreign-funded enterprise helps build employer-employee trust and loyalty.

"Organizing activities in which union members can participate can help make a company even more attractive to its staff and lower the resignation rate," Zhang said.

Official statistics show that the province has 14.77 million members in 137,000 trade unions, topping other regions nationwide.

(China Daily 06/12/2007 page4)

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