(Source: China Daily)
BEIJING, Oct. 8– All foreign-funded companies in China will be unionized by the end of next year, an official with China’s top trade union body said Tuesday.
Wang Ying, a division chief of the grassroots organizations and capacity building department of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), said more than 4,100 major foreign companies run by the Fortune 500 are doing business in China.
She said 82 percent of the companies have formed trade unions to date, and the figure would reach 90 percent by the end of this year. As of July, workers had been able to form trade unions in less than 50 percent of the Fortune 500 firms.
Wang said the dramatic shift resulted from a three-month national unionization campaign that began in June.
The ACFTU is directly responsible for supervising the formation of trade unions in 10 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Currently, Maersk Logistics, Lotus, IKEA, TNT, Kodak, FedEx, Home Depot, Emerson, Canon, Sony and ABB have trade unions.
“Most of the foreign companies have been cooperative, as they know they must abide by China’s laws if they do business in China,” she said.
She said the ACFTU had also met “tremendous resistance” from some foreign firms, especially American companies.
“Some US companies, such as Wyeth, Microsoft, 3M, AstraZeneca and PwC, have been quite uncooperative and have used various means to delay the establishment of trade unions,” she said.
“Workers do not need the approval of their employers to form trade unions, because the Trade Union Law, promulgated in 1992, gives them that right,” she said.
“However, it is still very important in practice for workers to gain support from the employers in forming unions.”
She said both the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China have shown support for the ACFTU over the issue.
By law, employers must allocate 2 percent of workers’ pay for trade union funds. Wang explained 40 percent of the funds go to the superior trade union and 60 percent remains in the company.
Senior ACFTU official Yang Honglin said some foreign companies still have misconceptions about trade unions.
“Trade unions in China not only safeguard workers’ rights and interests but also contribute to a company’s development,” he said.
ACFTU vice-chairman Sun Chunlan told a press conference Tuesday in Beijing that the ACFTU is leading another nationwide push for collective wage negotiations.
She said all the 108 Wal-Marts in China had signed collective contracts with their employees through negotiations by Sept 16.