Wal-Mart willing to talk to China's official union

Global retail giant Wal-Mart is willing to hold talks with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) because five trade unions have been formed at its Chinese outlets in two weeks, sources with Wal-Mart China said on Wednesday.

Li Chengjie, deputy president of Wal-Mart China, told Xinhua that his company sent a formal letter to the ACFTU last week, asking to hold talks with the union with "no media presence".

Guo Wencai, director of ACFTU's department of grassroots organizations, was quoted by media report as saying the two sides would meet to negotiate on Wednesday.

But Li said, "We haven't received a reply to our letter yet."

Wal-Mart aims to find a "win-win" solution with the ACFTU through this kind of "face-to-face" meeting and "active communication," according to Li.

"Considering the welfare of its employees, Wal-Mart China is willing to cooperate with the ACFTU and local trade unions in a more effective and harmonious way," Li noted.

The latest union at the retail giant's Chinese store was installed on Tuesday in the southern city of Shenzhen, where Wal-Mart locates its China headquarters.

Up to now, five trade unions have been set up in Wal-Mart China stores.

The first trade union was set up at Wal-Mart's Jinjiang outlet on July 29 after 30 employees appealed to the local federation of trade unions. The second was set up last Friday at Wal-Mart's Hujing store in Shenzhen.

Wal-Mart China told Xinhua earlier that the company had not been officially notified about these union activities in advance.

As the world's leading retailer with some 1.6 million employees in 16 countries and regions, Wal-Mart has a tradition of not allowing trade unions in its outlets, for which it has been widely criticized by human rights and labor organizations.

With mounting pressure from the ACFTU and the public, Wal-Mart China gave in in 2004 by saying in a statement that "Should associates request the formation of a union, Wal-Mart China will respect their wishes and honor its obligations under China's trade union law."

Source: Xinhua

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