Sunday, 25 November 2007

Chinese union awakens

Earlier this month, Huawei Technologies shelved its plans to dismiss 5,000 workers after a protest from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Both the dismissal plans and the union response are unusual.
Many Chinese companies are currently dismissing workers in anticipation of new labour market legislation to become effective as of 1 January. Workers will get employment protection after having worked for ten years for the same company, or having signed temporary contracts with a company more than twice. Dismissals target workers approaching the ten-year limit.
The ACFTU is seen by many as an instrument of the authorities rather than as an independent organisation. Whether its protest against the Huawei dismissals is a sign of newly won independence, is unclear. In any case, state media welcomed the initative. The Chinese government is concerned that social polarisation may destabilise the country.
The Global Labor Strategies website calls on foreign companies that do business in China to be open about their compliance with the new labour legislation. According to de Volkskrant, Huawei does business with KPN-daughter Telfort - its first European client.
Forbes, Volkskrant, GLS

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