Chinese Trade Unions to Strengthen Protection of Migrant Workers' Rights

Chinese trade unions will strengthen the protection of migrant workers' rights, said a senior official with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) on Thursday.

"The migrant workers have become an important part of China's labor force and are qualified to join trade unions," said Su Liqing, vice president of ACFTU and member of the organization's secretariat.

Statistics from ACFTU show that China has about 94 million migrant workers, with an expected increase of 5 million every year. According to Su, they are still a weak group in society and there remains much to do to protect their rights.

The most common problem for migrant workers is that they often cannot get paid in time and are fired very easily as the employers usually do not sign contracts with them, Su said. Besides, workplace safety is also a very serious problem for migrant workers.

The trade unions should absorb more migrant workers and set up more trade union organizations in private enterprises.

"Protecting migrant workers' rights should be the key task of trade unions in their future development," said Su.

Su said China never excluded migrant workers from its target of rights protection. However, Chinese trade unions used to admit only urban workers in the past when migration was rare in the country.

The ACFTU made it clear for the first time in an Aug. 9 circular that Chinese rural migrant workers who work in cities away from their homes can join the ACFTU branches nationwide.

The circular stipulated that all migrant workers were legally entitled to join the trade union, irrespective of their household address and work experience. Hindering and limitation by any individual or organization is illegal.

Statistics show that about 34 million migrant workers have been admitted to trade unions in China.

All-China Federation of Trade Unions
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which will hold its Fourteenth National Congress on Sept. 22, is the leading body of all local trade union councils and national institutions of industrial trade unions.

It was formerly founded at the Second All-China Labor Congress in Guangzhou City in southern China on May 1, 1925, and was forced underground in 1927 after the First Revolutionary Civil War.

The Sixth All-China Labor Congress held from Aug. 1 to 22, 1948,in northeastern China's Harbin City decided to restore the federation.

An organization formed by Chinese workers of their own accord, the federation prescribes its basic tasks as protecting the legitimate rights and interests of workers and staff members.

The organization aims to build a labor force with lofty ideals,knowledge of science and culture and a high sense of discipline byimproving education among workers and staff members.

It is also the organization's major task to bring into full play the role of the working class as the key force in China's development.

The ACFTU resumed relations with the International Labor Organization in 1983 and has established ties with trade unions ofvarious political orientations in over 130 countries and regions.

The supreme leading body of China's trade unions is the national congress and the executive committee of the ACFTU electedat the national congress.

The national congress now meets every five years. The Thirteenth National Congress of the ACFTU was held in 1998 in Beijing.

Wang Zhaoguo, chairman of the ACFTU, is also vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress.



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