Monday, November 29, 2004

China to Set Up Wal-Mart Union Branches

China's Communist Party-controlled union is ready to help Wal-Mart Stores Inc. set up union branches at its Chinese outlets 'as soon as possible,' reports and union officials said Thursday.

The 123 million-member All-China Federation of Trade Unions plans to push ahead with its demand that foreign enterprises such as Wal-Mart set up trade unions, its officials say.

The officials applauded an announcement Tuesday by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart that it will allow the federation to set up branches in its stores on the mainland.

'We have not obtained any union-related statements from Wal-Mart itself. But we learned from media reports that they have changed their attitude on the issue and we welcome that decision,' said Li Jianming, division chief at the union's international liaison department in Beijing.

'After all, it is the right of the workers to establish workers' unions, and no company or employer has the right to deprive them of that,' Li said."

What gives? Wal-Mart has fought unionization in the US ferociously, but allows unionization of their Chinese stores. Are American workers less worthy of the protections unions provide? And will this announcement spur greater unionization here in the US?

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