McDonald's, KFC to establish unions

By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-20 07:20

GUANGZHOU: McDonald's and KFC, both of which have been heavily criticised recently for underpaying their part-time workers in Guangdong, are to set up trade union branches across the province.

Speaking yesterday, Kong Xianghong, vice-chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Trade Union Federation, said: "McDonald's has set up a preparatory committee, comprising representatives of both employees and management, to help set up the union, and it is hoped the branches will open in May.

"Also, Yum! Brands Inc (the operator of KFC)'s Guangdong branch has approached the local trade union federation for guidance on setting up trade unions."

Kong said that an inter-regional committee of trade unions might be established for both McDonald's and KFC.

"Many of their city outlets employ only about 20 people, and some smaller cities have only one outlet," he said. "This means it is not feasible for them to set up a trade union branch for each outlet or in every city."

Also, the fact that the McDonald's outlets in the province are owned by two different companies is another reason to set up an inter-regional trade union committee, Kong said.

"This inter-regional committee of trade unions for foreign-funded enterprises will be the first of its kind in the province, and probably the nation," he said.

Kong said that the recent controversy over underpaying by the fast-food giants was not the reason for their move.

"The federation has been promoting the trade union organization to foreign-funded enterprises across the province since earlier last year and several have since set them up," Kong said.

He said that all of the province's 325 foreign-funded companies would be obliged to establish union branches by the end of the year.

Peng Peng, director of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said that setting up trade unions would help the fast-food giants improve their images and labor-management relations.

"Trade unions, while protecting workers' rights and interests, can definitely improve labor-management relations," Peng said.

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