communist party demands foreign firms set up union

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    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    Party demands foreign firms set up unions

    ASSOCIATED PRESS in Shanghai

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    The Communist Party-controlled trade union is threatening to sue foreign companies such as Wal-Mart Stores, Dell Computer Corp and Kodak if they do not establish union branches in their mainland operations.
    The drive, announced in newspapers this week, is the latest attempt by the 123 million-member All China Federation of Trade Unions to penetrate the most dynamic sector of the economy, boost its declining membership, and increase its lowly political status.

    Anita Chan, a research fellow specialising in mainland labour issues at Australian National University, said yesterday the union felt challenged and was losing membership. "To survive it has to do more," she said.

    Unlike past campaigns, this one appears to have more strength and, if enforced, could oblige foreign-invested companies to give the Communist Party a say in the running of their companies' mainland businesses.

    The trade union federation — the only legal labour organiser in the mainland - planned to collaborate with local governments and company employees to compile a black list of foreign-invested firms that had yet to set up union branches, said Yang Honglin, a deputy director of the Grass Roots Organ Building Department.

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