IBM and Volvo plan to set up trade unions in China

Xinhua article

BEIJING, Sept. 20 — Software giant IBM and Swedish automaker Volvo are among the latest batch of Fortune 500 companies doing business in China that plan to set up trade unions in the country, a senior union official said on Friday.

Yang Honglin, head of the grassroots organizations and capacity building department of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, said at a press conference: “Fortune Global 500 firms have been our focus in the formation of trade unions among foreign-funded enterprises.”

Less than half of the Fortune 500 subsidiaries in China have established trade unions, compared with more than 73 percent for all foreign-funded firms in China, he said.

To rectify the situation, the top trade union launched a three-month national campaign in June. Sony, Canon, FedEx, Intel and Toyota have set up unions since then, Yang said.
IBM and Volvo are among those that are planning to set up trade unions, he told China Daily.

Currently, 483 of the Fortune 500 firms run business in China, with 336 setting up headquarters here and about 10,000 having subsidiary operations.

China made a breakthrough in setting up trade unions among Fortune 500 firms in 2006, when retailing giant Wal-Mart, which did not have unions anywhere in the world, began setting them up.

Zhang Jianguo, director of the top trade union’s department of collective contracts, said more than 50,000 workers at Wal-Mart’s 108 chains in China have now signed collective contracts with their employers through their trade unions.

The contracts introduce annual wage negotiations and state the minimum wage offered by the firms should be higher than the local monthly minimum rate. The contracts also include other agreements on working hours, paid vacations, social security and training.

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