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The ACFTU is China's sole official union. It has traditionally been an adjunct of the Chinese Communist Party and government, serving as a "bridge" between workers and management in state-owned enterprises. With the economic reforms and development of the private economy over the last two decades the ACTFU's role has been blurred. It has sought to unionize the private sector but thus far has failed to encourage the development of genuinely representative grassroots unions. It has adopted a top-down approach, imposing unions and collective contracts on enterprises without consulting the workers themselves. However CLB believes the ACFTU, especially at the local level, can play a positive role in the future development of grassroots unions.

The death of Pan Jie, a 25-year-old auditor at the Shanghai branch of PricewaterhouseCoopers, last month ignited a vociferous debate in the Chinese media on the work pressures felt by young urban professionals.
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.
A new trade union, established to protect the rights of migrant workers in Tianjin’s Nankai district, has negotiated a collective pay deal with a labour supply company that would give the district’s cleaners an across-the-board pay rise.
At least six Chinese cities and provinces have, in the last few weeks, revealed plans to promote and develop collective wage negotiations in local enterprises this year.
The Shenzhen municipal trade union plans to negotiate and sign collective wage agreements at 550 enterprises this year, part of a five year plan to “reduce wage inequality and allow the city’s millions of migrant workers to share in the benefits of economic development,” the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone News reported. A national trade union conference on the development of collective wage negotiations, held in Shenzhen on 18 March, stipulated that the city should aim to conclude a total of 1,000 collective agreements within the next five years.
Workers at the Nanhai Honda automotive components plant in Foshan, who won a 500 yuan per month pay increase after going out on strike last year, have gained an additional 611 yuan a month increase this year through peaceful collective bargaining.
At the end of a year of rising wages and spiralling raw material costs, it was not the kind of festive surprise Hong Kong businessmen with factories in southern China would have wanted.
Sitting at a sidewalk coffee shop a block from the White House, Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, is reflecting on a series of visits he's made since 2002 to China, where he has discussed organizing and collective bargaining with leaders of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). China's economic transformation is a profound challenge to the United States, and to American workers in particular, Stern says. "We have to recognize that China is the first real economic competitor that has ever threatened America's standing as the global economic superpower."
The mainland's sole official trade union will pay staff in its branches from next year and will gradually allow more leaders of the grass-roots unions under its umbrella to be elected by workers' representatives.
The week-long strike at Honda supplier Atsumitec ended Thursday after workers and management agreed to a 45 percent increase in the basic wage from 980 yuan a month to 1,420 yuan. And the Guangdong provincial government is currently drafting Regulations on the Democratic Management of Enterprises (广东省企业民主管理条例), which if implemented would establish a legally binding wage negotiation system.


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