NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 13, 2006

China's state-sanctioned labor body is targeting Kodak and Dell in a campaign to organize unions at foreign-owned companies after its success at unionizing Wal-Mart's 62 Chinese outlets, an official of the body said yesterday.

"We are going to exert very high pressure on these companies until unions are established there," said Guo Wencai, director of grass-roots organizing for the All-China-Federation of Trade Unions.

  • The campaign is aimed at doubling the ACFTU's presence in foreign companies by the end of this year to 60 percent of the total, or about 90,000 enterprises.
  • ACFTU-affiliated unions have been set up in more than 300 foreign companies since the first Wal-Mart Stores outlet was organized on July 29; they include Swiss food company Nestle SA and General Semiconductor Inc., a unit of Malvern, Pa.-based Vishay Intertechnology Inc.

Foreign-financed companies employ millions of Chinese workers but have remained largely outside the country's union system.

  • Chinese law gives employees of any company with a work force of at least 25 people the right to form a union.
  • Chinese companies are unionized, but foreign employers often are accused of pressuring employees not to organize.

The ACFTU is the umbrella body for unions permitted by China's communist government, which doesn't allow independent labor groups and harasses and jails activists.  Unions affiliated with the body represent about 150 million Chinese workers.

Wal-Mart, which employs 30,000 people in China, has few unions elsewhere in its worldwide operations.  It resisted efforts to organize its Chinese workers for two years before agreeing in August to help set up official unions at all its China branches.

Source: "China's union targets U.S. firms," Associated Press/Washington Times, October 13, 2006.


Browse more articles on Economic Issues