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Unions target foreign businesses

By Chen Xin  (China Daily)

08:15, March 01, 2013

China's top trade union organization will prioritize setting up unions in all overseas-funded businesses that have been operating in the country for more than five years, particularly the world's four-biggest audit firms, which have a strong presence in China.

Of the roughly 200,000 foreign-funded corporations in China, 91.4 percent had union representative by the end of 2012, said Wang Ying, a deputy chief overseeing grassroots labor organizations in the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

"There are still enterprises that have invested in China for many years but are still reluctant to set up unions," she said, highlighting particularly the 'Big Four' audit companies of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, which together employ nearly 40,000 people nationwide.

"Those companies have often resorted to excuses that a union would encourage employees to raise demanding work-related requests.

"They have always delayed the establishment of unions because they lack a full understanding about the function of a Chinese union," she said.

Another factor that has dampened enthusiasm to set up a union is that the Trade Union Law requires corporations to contribute the equivalent of 2 percent of workers' total monthly wages as union funds, according to Wang.

"They worry that establishing a union will increase their costs."

Wang said that China's union rules generally require corporate unions to keep 60 to 70 percent of their funds for union management and activities, and the rest goes to higher-level union organizations.

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