Guangzhou to establish regional trade unions in automotive and other sectors

The Guangzhou authorities plan, within the next three years, to establish new regional trade unions that would cover nearly all workers in the city's automotive and several other industrial sectors, the official media reported on 15 April.

The new organizing initiative will focus initially on the private sector, especially foreign, Taiwan and Hong Kong-owned businesses, which were the focus of a wave of strikes that swept the region last year. The authorities hope to establish enterprise unions in 80 percent of the city’s private sector and all of its foreign-owned enterprises by the end of next year.

In the longer-term, regional trade unions will be set up at the sub-district, district and county-levels to cover workers in the automotive, taxi, hotel, and food and beverage industries, as well as the retail and education sectors, the head of the Guangzhou Municipal Trade Union Federation, Chen Weiguang, explained.

A major part of the organizing drive, Chen said, will be to recruit more migrant workers and those employed as temporary or agency workers who are usually excluded from the enterprise union because they are not formal employees of the enterprise.

At the same time, the authorities announced plans to issue wage guidelines for different industrial sectors and push the development of collective wage negotiations (工资集体协商) between enterprise trade unions and employers. Currently, less than 60 percent of unionized enterprises in Guangzhou have established a wage negotiation system. The municipal union aims to bring that figure up to 70 percent by the end of 2012 and 80 percent by the end of 2013.
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