Government orders iPod maker to set up official trade union

08 September 2006

A Taiwanese-owned supplier of Apple Computer Inc.'s popular music players iPods has been ordered by the Chinese government to allow its more than 200,000 workers to set up an official trade union, according to reports.

Hongfujin Precision Industry Co, wholly owned by Foxconn Technology Holdings, has been recently under the limelight after it filed a defamation case against two journalists of China Business News who reported about labour practices in the factory. (See earlier reports on the Foxconn factory: iPod maker sues two Chinese journalists over labour rights violations report and iPod supplier factory breaks code of conduct on overtime, Apple says) The factory was put on a list of companies in Shenzhen that have been ordered to set up a union affiliated with the government's All-china Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).

Reports said Hongfujin has dropped its compensation claim in the defamation case from 30 million yuan to a token one yuan and had asked a Shenzhen court to unfrozen the personal assets of China Business News' reporter Wang You and editor Weng Bao after heavy media pressure and online criticisms by Chinese netizens.

In recent years, the government has been pushing foreign-invested companies to allow official unions, which are widely known to be allied with management, but not workers, while independent unions are still strongly prohibited.

Sources: Xinhua News Agency (1 September 2006), Associated Press (1 September 2006)

8 September 2006

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