International Metalworkers' Federation and All-China Federation of Trade Unions discuss organising, collective bargaining

Organizing, collective bargaining and trade union networks were debated at a seminar between the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF) and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) on November 29-30 in Shanghai. 30 Chinese national, regional and local level representatives attended, together with IMF delegates from Germany, Japan, United States, Brazil, Sweden and the IMF head office.

International Metalworkers' Federation and All-China Federation of Trade Unions discuss organising, collective bargaining

IMF delegation discusses trade union strategies on globalization with All-China Federation of Trade Unions in Shanghai.

CHINA:  Organizing, collective bargaining and trade union networks were debated at a seminar between the International Metalworkers' Federation and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) on November 29-30 in Shanghai. 30 Chinese national, regional and local level representatives attended, together with IMF delegates from Germany, Japan, United States, Brazil, Sweden and the IMF head office.

ACFTU officials reported on a considerable increase in trade union membership as a result of focus on organizing. Following success at Wal-Mart, a campaign had been carried out to reach an 85 percent unionization rate in major multinational companies on the Fortune 500 list. ACFTU now has over 240 million members, of whom 27 million in the metal industries, organized by the Chinese Machinery, Metallurgical and Building Materials Workers' Union (CMMBMWU).

A lively debate took place on the growing number of labour disputes in China, including suicides at Foxconn and strikes at Honda and its suppliers in 2010. Workers need to have channels to express themselves through workers' participation and democratic management, said ACFTU officials.

Strikes and increased focus on collective bargaining have led to considerable wage increases. The Chinese government and ACFTU support the rise of purchasing power. Minimum wages have been raised by 10-30 percent in different provinces.

IMF delegates explained how unions around the world were building power as a response to globalization. They gave examples of trade union networks and the use of different tools such as international framework agreements (IFA), OECD guidelines and ILO conventions for organizing and enforcing global labour standards.

Chinese local level union leaders offered their cooperation as Chinese companies are boosting investment in industrial companies abroad, such as Geely's takeover of Volvo Cars.

IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina suggested continued exchange on organizing, collective bargaining, workers' participation, networking, health and safety, climate change and trade. Chinese delegates are already participating in IMF's World Works Councils and networks in companies such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Bosch and SKF.