All Foreign-Funded Companies in China to be Unionized by 2009

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Oct. 8 – According to an official from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), ninety percent of foreign-funded companies in China will be unionized by the end of this year; eventually all foreign-funded companies will have trade unions by 2009.

Wang Ying, a division chief of the grassroots organizations and capacity for ACFTU told China Daily that currently 82 percent of foreign-funded companies have trade unions.

In July, only less than 50 percent of the Fortune 500 firms in country had trade unions. There are more than 4,100 major foreign companies run by the Fortune 500 doing business in the country.

China’s national unionization campaign requires employers to set aside 2 percent of workers’ pay for trade union funds. Forty percent of the funds will go to the superior trade union while the rest remains with the company.

The ACFTU is managing the establishment of trade unions in 10 of the Fortune 500 companies. The top foreign-funded firms with trade unions include Maersk Logistics, Lotus, IKEA, TNT, Kodak, FedEx, Home Depot, Emerson, Canon, Sony and ABB.

“Most of the foreign companies have been cooperative, as they know they must abide by China’s laws if they do business in China,” Wang said.

She added, “Some U.S. 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.”

“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.