Topics: Trade union, Strike action, Employment Pages: 2 (771 words) Published: October 10, 2013 The key players in Chinese trade unions

The Chinese trade union system is a broad network of trade unions spearheaded at the top by the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) with close ties to the China Communist Party (CCP). At the grassroots level are the Enterprise Trade Unions (ETUs) within individual companies.  In 2009, 311 million workers were members of Chinese trade unions, the largest number in the world. The ACFTU's primary role is to assist the state in ensuring the continuing operation of the labour market. This is contrary to the traditional role of trade unions in western countries which has been to uphold workers' rights, for example, by coordinating the mobilisation of the workforce in industrial disputes.  Instead of being led by employees, the ETUs are generally led by the management of the corporation within which their members work.  As such, negotiations over wages and working conditions are not the modus operandi of the ETUs.  Whilst they legally represent the interests of workers, the ETUs are more focused on the well-being of the enterprise at the direction of the CCP. The function of ETUs is being challenged by a newer generation of workers who are more educated and politically aware than the earlier generation.  As a result, the number of employees' strikes and wage demands have increased in recent years.  This has forced the ETUs to reconsider their role, given the risk of disgruntled employees taking more action of their own accord.  This changing dynamic will become more apparent in the coming years. One of the most criticised aspects of trade union law in China is the fact that there is not a legal right to strike in industrial disputes, although this has not precluded such action from taking place in practice. For example, in early 2012, 200 members from the Microsoft...
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