Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unionization, Chinese style

Is this for the benefit of Chinese workers or a way to extend the power of the Party or a way to fund government without raising direct taxes or all of those?

China Tells Businesses to Unionize

"Some of the world’s biggest corporations are facing intense pressure from China to allow the state-approved union to form in their Chinese plants and offices. But many companies fear admitting the unions will give their Chinese employees the power to slow or disrupt their operations and will significantly increase the cost of doing business here...

"Lawyers and analysts say that demands of the All China Federation of Trade Unions, the only union the Communist Party allows, could sharply alter business practices of foreign companies in China, including giving lower-level workers the power to bargain over anything from pay raises to whether a Chinese headquarters should be moved elsewhere in the country...

" Hundreds of big corporations, like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Yum Brands, which operates KFC and Pizza Hut, have agreed to set up unions in their Chinese operations.

"But union officials say that some nonmanufacturing companies are resisting...

"The new government pressure seems to be part of a sweeping effort aimed at addressing some of the ugly consequences of China’s dynamic economic growth, like rampant pollution, a growing income gap and widespread labor abuse.

"Up until now, though, the state-controlled union has done little to agitate on behalf of workers, legal experts say, and has often done more to control workers than to benefit them. The union’s reputation for allowing abuses to exists has led some to doubt whether it can properly represent workers.

"But the union, which says it already has 200 million members, is promising to truly represent workers, and is gaining standing with Communist Party leaders...

"Many big corporations in China that have recently allowed unions to form under pressure have declined to comment on the union drive. Some company spokesmen have admitted privately that they do not want to raise the ire of the state-controlled union or anger China’s political leaders, who are backing the effort.

"But several big companies said they were working well with the union. Wal-Mart, which for years has fought against unions in the United States and elsewhere, now has unions operating in nearly all of its 108 stores in China..."

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