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17 communist union branches now set up in Wal-Mart China

Posted by Author on September 3, 2006

China Labour Bulletin, 15 August 2006–

Since July 29, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions(ACFTU, state controlled)’s drive to set up union branches in Wal-Mart stores in China has snowballed rapidly, with a total of 17 union branches now having been formed in Wal-Mart stores in cities around the country. They include three unions in Fuzhou and one in Quanzhou, Fujian Province; one in Nanjing and another in Shanghai; three in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province; two in Shenyang and three in Dalian, Liaoning Province; and others in Jinan and Qingdao, Shandong Province, and in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province.

Wal-Mart first entered China’s domestic market in 1996 and currently employs around 32,000 workers in some 60 retail stores nationwide. Since 2003, the company has been under sustained pressure from the ACFTU to permit the formation of union branches in its China stores. In November 2004, the company caved in and publicly stated: “Should associates [i.e. employees] request formation of a union, Wal-Mart China would respect their wishes and honour its obligation under China’s Trade Union Law.” For the next year and a half, however, the ACFTU tried in vain to persuade Wal-Mart to cooperate in the actual establishment of union branches in its China stores.

That all changed after Hu Jintao, China’s president and Communist Party leader, directly intervened in March of this year. A lengthy article published on August 15 in the Beijing daily newspaper Xin Jing Bao (New Capital News) explains why the current spate of Wal-Mart union branches in China has emerged so suddenly and unexpectedly:

“According to the ACFTU’s records, On March 14 this year CPC Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao issued instructions on a report titled A Situation Analysis on the Factors of Instability in Foreign-invested Enterprises in China’s Coastal Area, and Some Proposed Countermeasures. Hu Jintao ordered: “Do a better job of building Party organizations and trade unions in foreign-invested enterprises.” This created a new and opportune moment for union building in foreign enterprises. On March 16 the ACFTU instructed its staff to study Hu Jintao’s comments, and it set the target of unionizing 60 percent or more of the country’s foreign-invested enterprises by the end of 2006, and 80 percent or more by the end of 2007.”

ACFTU Fulfils its Quota – Wal-Mart Accepts Fait Accompli

On Saturday, July 29, 25 Wal-Mart workers in the city of Quanzhou, Fujian Province, formed a seven-member trade union committee, thus breaking the long-standing absence of unions in Wal-Mart’s China stores. On August 4, 42 more workers at a Wal-Mart store in Shenzhen formed a union. The retail giant saw its third union in China set-up the following day in its Xinjiekou store in Nanjing, where 31 employees elected a local university graduate to head their trade union committee. Several hours later, another union was formed by 12 workers at a second Wal-Mart store in Shenzhen; and then on August 8, 27 employees of yet another store in Shenzhen voted to form the company’s fifth union branch.

All the union branches are relatively small, with around 25 to 35 members each. But what mainly distinguishes them, according to official Chinese reports, is that they were all set up “on the initiative of the workers themselves”, and in accordance with provisions of the PRC Trade Union Law of 2002 mandating the formation of unions in enterprises employing more than 25 workers. Regulations enacted by the Guangdong government in 2004 lowered the union-building threshold still further, in that province, to as few as 10 workers in a single enterprise.

For the first couple of weeks, Wal-Mart representatives remained uncharacteristically silent about the sudden unionization drive within the company’s China stores. On August 9, however, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the vice president of Wal-Mart China, Li Chengjie, as saying it wanted to cooperate with the ACFTU “in a more effective and harmonious way.” The same day, the ACFTU warned Wal-Mart not to retaliate against workers who form unions. The group, “led by the Communist Party of China and backed by the government, will take measures to protect these workers,” Xinhua reported, paraphrasing Guo Wencai, director of the ACFTU’s department of grassroots organizing. Wal-Mart then asked for direct negotiations with the ACFTU and requested that “no media” be allowed to attend such meetings. The 12 most recent Wal-Mart union branches have all been formed over the past week, and it now seems clear that the ACFTU’s goal is to unionize all 60 Wal-Mart stores around the country. (to be cont’d…)

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Related:
Capitalist Wal-Mart goes communist in China , August 24th, 2006

One Response to “17 communist union branches now set up in Wal-Mart China”

  1. madmilker said

    read “The Flow of Trade in a Global Economy” by Lance Winslow. There is one quote from his article tat comes in mind. “Now let us look at Wal-Mart again; you buy a product there, 6% goes to the employees, 10-18% is profit to the company, 25% goes to other costs and 50% goes to re-stock or the cost of goods sold. Of the 50% about 20-25% goes to China, a guess, but you get the point. Now then, how long will it take at 433 Billion dollars at year for China to have all of our money, leaving no money flow for us to circulate? At a 17 Trillion dollar economy less than 40-years minus the 1/6 they buy from us. Some say that if we keep putting money into our economy, it would take forever, but if we do not then eventually all the money flow will go. If China buys our debt then eventually they own us, no need to worry about a war, they are buying America, due in part to our own mismanaged trade, so whose fault is that? Not necessarily China, as they are doing what’s in the best interests, and we should make sure that trade is not only free, but fair too.”

    Also, think for a moment about George Washington….yes the man tat is on the US dollar bill…. “Washington had been reelected unanimously in 1792. His decision not to seek a third term established a tradition that is now embedded in the 22d Amendment of the Constitution. In his Farewell Address of Sept. 17, 1796, he drew on the results of his varied experience, offering a guide for both present and future. He urged his compatriots to cherish the Union, support the public credit, be alert to the “insidious wiles of foreign influence,” respect the Constitution and the nation’s laws, abide by the results of elections, and eschew political parties of a sectional cast. Asserting that the United States and Europe had different interests, he declared that it “is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” trusting to temporary alliances for emergencies. He also warned against indulging in either habitual favoritism or habitual hostility toward particular nations, lest such attitudes should provoke or involve the country in needless wars.”

    Take the time to read his farewell address after only eight years of serving his country and than ask yourself tis….How do you think George feels being sent overseas in return for all tat foreign so-call cheap items and being left in a foreign bank because the American worker doesn’t make anythig for the foreigners to buy. Cheap items didn’t make tis great union of 57…oops! 50 states the greatest place on the face of tis Earth…..the American worker (union and non-union) did.

    You can’t have a strong country without having a strong currency and you can’t have a strong currency unless you keep it floating around within your 50 states. Tis is why the store with the star in the name puts 95% China made items in their stores in China….to keep their “yuan” in their country helping the nice people there. And with only 5% left for all the other 182 country’s tat make stuff including the United States of America….tat doesn’t produce very many jobs outside of China.

    Being an old person myself and knowing how it wus back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in tis union of 50 states….I look at George each time I pull him out of my billfold and make a promise to send him out for items made in America so after floating around helping each hand he touches jus maybe one day he will shake mine again.

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