High expectations held for trade unions congress

Union building, public awareness of unions and enforcement of employment laws are on the agenda of delegates at the 14th national congress of Chinese trade unions due to open on Monday.

Wu Shenyao, vice-president of the Shanghai Municipal Trade Union, expressed the hope that the congress would promote the transfer of ideas among officials and help trade unions become actual coordinators of labor affairs.

"Many trade union officials haven't adapted to the diversified economy and the complicated employment changes, but continued the working style of the old planned economy," said Wu, who has devoted 18 years to trade union service and participated in four previous congresses.

Delegate Xiang Songxie, president of the trade union of Zhuhai City in south China's Guangdong Province, hoped the congress wouldelevate the social status of trade unions, which would enable thembetter fulfill the obligation of safeguarding the rights and interests of workers.

"Trade unions generally don't enjoy their due social status, which has hampered their construction to a certain extent," said Xiang.

Meanwhile, Xiang expressed concern over the establishment of trade unions in private enterprises, hoping the congress would focus on the private economic sector.

Yangjim, head of the Tibetan delegation, hoped that the congress would help improve the legal system concerning trade unions.

"The implementation of relative laws and regulations should be guaranteed by imperative measures," she suggested.

She also called for urgent improvement of the proficiency of trade union officials in the primary tasks of helping with employment, professional training and safeguarding the rights and interests of workers.

All the 36 delegations have arrived in Beijing to participate in the congress, from Sept. 22 to 26, and will hear and debate thework report of the 13th Executive Committee of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), discuss and adopt an amended version of the federation's constitution and the financial report of the 13th Executive Committee, and elect the 14th ACFTU Executive Committee and the Financial Auditing Committee.

Altogether 1,698 official representatives have been elected to attend the congress. The federation has also invited another 253 representatives, including 34 from Hong Kong and Macao.

China has 1,710,000 trade unions at grass-roots level, up from 510,000 five years ago, with a record 134 million members, a sharpincrease from 90 million in 1998.

The ACFTU, set up in 1925, is the leading body of all local trade union councils and all national organizations of industrial trade unions.

The national congress, held every five years, is the supreme body of Chinese trade unions.

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