Friday, 1 July 2011

‘Embrace official Chinese union’

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) has a reputation for letting itself to be spoon-fed by the state and therefore it is not recognised by the international trade union movement. However, the banned Chinese activist Han Dongfang calls in the Guardian for seeking collaboration with the ACFTU. According to the activist, labour unrest has forced the ACFTU to focus more on the interests of workers. He argues that it is important to support the union in its course.
Han Dongfang says there is still room for criticism. For example, a spokesperson of the union would recently have reassured businesses: “unlike western unions, which always stand against the employer, Chinese unions are obliged to boost the corporation's development and maintain sound labour relations”.


1 comment:

Vic Thorpe said...

Delighted to see that Han Dongfan has now changed his line. It is obvious that we never could just leave the world's largest workforce on one side and say:"Call us again when you find democracy!" while our own employers flocked there.
Last year in Guangzhou province over 80 successful actions were organized by disgruntled workers against their employers without recourse to the ACFTU that they identified as being useless for their needs. These actions were organized by groups that purposely had no fixed leadership and were successfuly pursued through the courts with the aid of local legal support, resulting in good settlements for the workers concerned. This has put the ACFTU on notice that they need to start acting like 'real' trade unions if they are to remain in any way relevant in the new China.
It is well past time that the rest of the labour world got involved.
BUT that doesn't imply that we should accept the ACFTU as a bona fide representative of the Chinese working class, which it is not of course (most of its factory units are chaired by the Deputy President of the company concerned!). We should simply help to keep up the pressure on the bureacracy by supporting all and every attempt to change - by offering training in collective bargaining and grievance handling and in democratic organization.

Vic Thorpe
Just Solutions Network